TCU members covered by the 2007 National Freight Agreements have a significant health insurance benefit improvement coming their way. Starting November 1, 2008, office visit co-pays for nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, physical therapists and chiropractors will drop $15—from $35 to $20.
There’s more: a new supplemental discount program soon will be applied to charges for out-of-network services.
These improvements were the result of continued efforts by TCU and the other rail unions of the CRLO, the Cooperating Rail Labor Organizations, following settlement of the 2007 agreements. “Benefit improvements between contracts are extremely rare,” explains President Bob Scardelletti who serves as Chairman of the CRLO. “We are proud to have achieved these important goals.”
Here is how these upgrades were put in place, Scardelletti reports: “Co-pays under the 2007 Agreements were set at $35 for specialists as one of several inseparable Plan design changes that facilitated the unprecedented expansion of Managed Care to almost all geographical areas of the country. As a result of the MMCP expansion, virtually all members covered by the National Freight Agreements can now enjoy the lower out-of-pocket costs and unlimited lifetime cap of Managed Care, as opposed to the 85/15 co-insurance arrangement of the Comprehensive benefit with its one-million dollar cap and annual deductibles.
“Notwithstanding the tremendous advantages of the MMCP expansion, the placement of co-pays for nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, physical therapist and chiropractors in the higher ‘specialist’ provider category had substantial impact on some members and was a benefit change we fought hard to avoid. Ultimately, we were not able to achieve the lower $20 co-pays we sought, and the agreement sent to you for ratification in 2007 reflected the $35 co-pays.
“However, by steadfastly pursuing the issue with the Carriers through our status as Joint Policyholders, we were able to achieve a reduction in co-pays through jointly agreed upon administrative action during the moratorium period between contracts. Likewise, the implementation of the new supplemental discount program—which should result in considerable participant savings—was also the result of administrative action by the Joint Plan Committee.”