Health Care open enrollment for OCSEA state bargaining unit employees is coming up at the end of May, beginning May 20 and ending May 31. During that period, eligible OCSEA members can enroll or make changes to their health care as well as their dental, vision, life insurance and legal services through the Union Benefits Trust. Get more information at the OhioDAS website.
The union’s strength in negotiating has brought some significant changes to health care this year, including a new telemedicine agreement that cuts office co-pays in half. Also, beginning in July, thanks to pressure from the union, Aetna is out and Medical Mutual of Ohio will be administering the health care plan for those zip codes.
Unfortunately, the state will be offering a high deductible plan outside the collective bargaining agreement during open enrollment in addition to the traditional plan. You may recall, the state put a high deductible plan on the table during the last round of contract negotiations, but the union rejected the plan since it shifts much of the burden of health care costs to consumers. The issue went to Fact Finding and the Fact Finder allowed for management to offer a voluntary high deductible plan, while still keeping the union-negotiated traditional PPO health care plan.
If you like your health care the way it is, you will make NO changes during this time.
While the state said a high deductible plan will help control costs and make employees better consumers of health care, research by Kaiser Health shows that recently even employers are reassessing the value of these plans. With low unemployment and workers harder to find, it’s getting increasingly difficult to attract good employees. This is especially true for government workers who often perform some of the hardest and most dangerous jobs. In fact, because of this trend, OCSEA recently joined with the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction to help recruit Correction Officers with a comprehensive joint marketing plan.
Additionally, the argument that high deductible plans will lower costs and make employees better consumers hasn’t panned out as expected. High deductible plans may have reached their peak two years ago, according to the study by Kaiser.
For all these reasons, plus the fact that the state’s high deductible health care plan was NOT negotiated by the union and therefore is not under our collective bargaining agreement, the union is not recommending the plan.
If you have questions about the two plans, please contact OCSEA’s health care expert Kelly Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.