My name is Jon Ferguson. As a 51-year-old single copy editor who is generally in good health, I’ve had years without doctor visits and in general had minimal out-of-pocket expenses for health care. But I recognize I’m hitting an age where more health care needs are likely.
In 2012, I incurred the diagnosis of a cancerous melanoma, including surgery to remove a patch of skin, but thankfully it was caught early and effectively treated by Kaiser.
I hope to continue with Kaiser if we elect to go on Hearst’s health care plans, but the employee expense should we switch will rise 160 percent. Even shifting to a deductible plan would be a significant increase. The boost effectively means a pay cut for me of 1 to 2 years until Hearst’s proposed 1.5 percent raises add up to enough to cover the increase. Other co-workers, depending on their pay and family status, could effectively be facing a take-home pay cut for up to five years until the raises cover the increased costs. And this assumes no future increases for the course of the contract, which is far from guaranteed, especially since the Guild would relinquish all of its current shared control over the health care system.
It’s incumbent upon each one of you to take a careful look at the proposed plans, do the math on the payroll contribution costs and the plan co-pays and deductibles compared with your present plan, and see where you stand individually and as a union member. Health care appears to be the critical factor as we choose how to move forward in our quest to gain a fair contract for our hard work, and we have serious decisions to make.