By GREGORY N. HEIRES
The Municipal Labor Committee on May 18 approved the last of a series of coverage changes that will enable the city to save $3.4 billion in employee health care costs.
The city and MLC — which represents city unions on health care matters — agreed to the four-year plan in 2015. The saving plan enabled DC 37 to maintain the premium-free health care coverage that members and retirees enjoy through Blue Cross Blue Shield/GHI-CBP and HIP/HMO.
“There were doubts in some circles that the union and city could achieve this, but we succeeded,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “The plan preserves our premium-free coverage at least through fiscal year 2018.”
Here are the changes:
● The co-pay for members enrolled in HIP/HMO who use Urgent Care centers will increase to $50 on July 1. Currently, the co-pay at the centers ranges from no charge to $10.
● Also on July 1, the emergency room co-pay of members with HIP/HMO coverage will change from $50 to $150. The charge is waived when patients are admitted to the hospital.
Co-pays for HIP preferred providers will remain unchanged. The co-pay for visits to non-preferred providers will continue to be $10. Members who use AdvantagedCare Physicians clinics will continue to have no co-pay for visits to their primary care physicians.
The latest round of changes will not affect members enrolled in the GHI EmblemHealth plan. Retirees who are not yet covered by Medicare also will not see their GHI EmblemHealth co-pays change. The co-pays of retirees enrolled in Medicare remain the same.
The $3.4 billion plan has resulted in $400 million in savings in fiscal year 2015, $700 million in fiscal year 2016, $1 billion in fiscal year 2017 and a projected $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2018.
“We did our best to minimize the impact of this plan on our members,” said Willie Chang, administrator of the DC 37 Health & Security Plan. Chang heads the MLC’s technical committee, which worked closely with the city administration’s health care technicians to fine-tune coverage to avoid higher out-of-pocket expenses.
This blog post first appeared in the June issue of Public Employee Press, the official publication of DC 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal employees in New York City.