Friday November 9, 2012
Recently, AT&T informed its retirees about open enrollment and changes to their 2013 benefits. Many retirees questioned the increased costs. Since then AT&T extended open enrollment for Non-Medicare Eligible Retirees. The Company decided to extend the enrollment period after they learned some retirees were not aware two medical plans are available.
In 2013, Non-Medicare eligible retirees can continue to choose between two medical plan options, based upon their individual coverage needs. The Company Plan Alternative Option, which has been in effect since 2010, continues to be available for participants who are seeking a plan with no monthly contributions. The other alternative is the traditional regional Company Plan Option.
To enroll or make changes to your coverage, even if you have already made changes for 2013, you must contact the AT&T Benefits Center on or before 7pm CST on November 30, 2012.
It’s important to understand retiree benefits are a permissive subject of bargaining which means during contract negotiations for current employees the company is not required to negotiate retiree benefits. Over the past few contracts, the IBEW was able to persuade AT&T management to bargain over the retiree benefits package. Company executives wanted to cut retiree benefits. As a result of our discussions our Union was able to protect many retiree benefits.
The language concerning retiree benefits has changed over the years. Retiree Healthcare Cost Sharing language has been part of the Comprehensive Health Care Plan (CHCP) since 1989 bargaining through the Retiree Medical Assurance Program (RMAP) and affects anyone who retired on or after January 1, 1993. Monthly contributions are based on the company's cost of coverage for eligible retirees.
In 2004 bargaining the RMAP component of the CHCP was replace with the Defined Dollar Benefit Cap (DDB) at that time a cap of $9000 was put in place. The cap was increased to $12,500 in 2009 bargaining.
The company determines the yearly Average Annual Cost of Coverage per eligible retiree by looking at the retiree health care costs it paid from July 1st of the previous year through June 30th of the current year. If the average exceeds the DDB the company uses the formula in the CHCP to calculate the upcoming year's monthly contributions retires will have to pay.
It is our understanding; the 2012 monthly contributions were greatly reduced because the company received government subsidies from the Affordable Care Act’s Early Retirement Reinsurance Program (ERRP). The premiums paid by retirees in 2012 were reduced and were not a true reflection of the cost of coverage because of the ERRP subsidies AT&T received.
Unfortunately, the ERRP funds that were available have been depleted. This caused the dramatic increase in the 2013 rates. As much as we might not like it the rates are correct based on the DDB cap component of the CHCP.
Information on the DDB Cap can be found in the CHCP Summary of Materials Modification (SMM) dated December 2005. The CHCP SPD's and SMM's can be found on the AT&T Benefits website at www.resources.hewitt.com/att.
Retirees need to carefully read all of the documentation they received then research and choose the most cost effective plan that will meet the health care needs of you and your family. You can find more healthcare plan options and costs by calling the AT&T benefits center at 877-722-0020 or visiting the AT&T Benefits website.
As we prepare for 2013 bargaining with AT&T we expect the company to further their attacks on both their retirees and current employees. If we want to turn the tide we all must fight together. As our current members go into battle to save their jobs and way of life, they realize they too will someday become retirees. We will need all of our retirees to stand with us as we fight for our livelihoods. We will stand with you to protect retiree benefits.