2011 Health Care Visibility Campaign
We are asking all HUCTW members to help us get our union-management discussions on retiree health care going again in a more positive and progressive direction, with a new visibility effort. The theme of the campaign is “We All Care for Health Care.” We hope that you’ll display the “We All Care for Health Care” posters and graphics as widely and creatively as possible in your workspace and around the Harvard campus. The goal of this initiative is to press Harvard administrators to reconsider the plan for retiree health changes, and to let the community know that we all care deeply about protecting good health care for our friends and former co-workers, the retirees. Learn more about the retiree health negotiations.
Below is the first “We All Care for Health Care” poster, in a series of three. We will release a new 8.5x11 poster every few weeks. Please display the poster in your work space, common areas, and around campus. We also encourage you to use the other graphics below as screensavers, backgrounds, and email signatures to spread the word that we all care for our retirees and We All Care for Health Care!
Click on the small image below to open the full size version:
Details on HUCTW's Retiree Health Care Conversations with Harvard
In the fall of 2011, as a part of the 2012 open enrollment, the University announced plans to implement a major change to the Medex retiree health insurance plan. (Blue Cross/Blue Shield Medex is the plan that the majority of Harvard retirees choose to supplement their Medicare coverage.) As a part of this change, Harvard plans to introduce 20% coinsurance for all medical services, with a $1000 annual out-of-pocket maximum per person. This means that some retirees who are living on incomes as low as $15,000 - $20,000 will have to pay $1000 more a year for health care, or up to $2000 more if there is a couple covered by the plan. This is too much new cost for people living on a low, fixed income to afford.
Another troubling aspect of the cost increase is that the University did not carry out important discussions on the change with HUCTW. Coverage under the retiree health plan is promised to eligible retirees in the HUCTW Agreement and any changes to that contract need to be negotiated with HUCTW. Aside from contractual obligations, HUCTW leaders have been repeatedly assured that University leaders understood the need to create a “safety net” protecting lower-income retirees, and that there would be further discussions about how to build in those protections. But these promised negotiations have not taken place and Harvard plans to implement the change on January 1, 2012.
HUCTW leaders and members realize that it may be necessary for Harvard to increase retirees’ health insurance costs over time in order to keep a high-quality plan like Medex sustainable for the University. But the costs also need to be sustainable for the retirees. Our health care programs should not treat retirees at all income levels in the same way. A higher-income retiree with abundant assets will feel the $1000 cost increase very differently from someone living on $20,000 a year of fixed income. It is extremely important to protect these lower-paid retirees by setting a lower out-of-pocket maximum, or by introducing income “tiers” with different coinsurance obligations for different retiree income levels, similar to the income tiers in place for the active employee plans. We need a plan that is sensitive to differences in economic status. We need smart, progressive health care policies developed in a thoughtful process with Union and faculty involvement.
For more information, please see our Open Letters on Health Care:
HUCTW's August 23, 2011 letter on health care:
HUCTW's March 31, 2011 letter on health care:
If you have questions, please call the Union office at 617-661-8289.