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SAG-AFTRA’s ‘Unconscionable’ Health Plan Changes Spurs Petition With Over 11,500 Signatures

”We must put pressure on the health plan union and producer trustees to overturn these changes immediately,“ petition says

More than 11,500 actors have signed a petition against proposed changes to SAG-AFTRA’s health plan as of Saturday night. The changes come in response to projected losses incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with premium increases and stricter financial eligibility requirements set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

The petition, hosted on Change.org, was nearing 11,600 signatures by 6 p.m. PT on Saturday.

In a letter to members sent out on Wednesday, managers of the guild’s health plan said the changes are necessary because of projected deficits “of $141 million this year and $83 million in 2021,” and that “by 2024, the Health Plan is projected to run out of reserves.”

The health plan currently covers those making more than $18,040 per year. But under the proposed changes, SAG-AFTRA members under the age of 65 will now have to earn at least $25,950 per year to be eligible. Members over 65 who are not receiving a pension must earn $25,950 for the year, with at least some “sessional earnings reported; if so, both sessional and residual earnings are included.” It’s unclear how many members will be impacted by the earnings floor being raised.

The Change.org petition calls the changes “unconscionable” during a global pandemic and outlines several of the “horrible changes” it’s pushing back against.

Among other changes to the plan include:

— People only covering themselves will now pay $375 per quarter. If they have one dependent, they will pay a $531 premium per quarter. And if they have two or more dependents, their premium will be $747 per quarter.

— If an eligible member’s spouse is employed and their employer offers health coverage, they must now take that coverage in order to be eligible for any additional coverage through the SAG-AFTRA plan. If they do not accept their employer’s plan, they become ineligible for the guild plan.

— The new plan also eliminates the maximum out-of-pocket expenses for users getting out-of-network coverage. Guild members will now be forced to pay any balance due for out-of-network coverage.

These changes will put SAG-AFTRA members “and their families lives in danger,” the petition added. “We must put pressure on the health plan union and producer trustees to overturn these changes immediately.”

Ross Lincoln contributed to this report.