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Good News on Adjunct Health Insurance, Aug.1

Here is the latest letter that PSC/CUNY President Barbara Bowen has sent to participants in the Welfare Fund Adjunct Health Insurance Program:

August 1, 2014

Dear Participant in Adjunct Health Insurance:

I am delighted to tell you that the uncertainty about adjunct health insurance is over. 

Starting October 1, 2014, adjunct health insurance—with the current eligibility requirements—will be provided by CUNY through the New York City Health Benefits Program.  The current coverage through the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund will end on September 30, and the new program will begin on October 1, with no gap in coverage. 

Under the new program, health insurance will be provided through the City Health Benefits Program, and prescription drug coverage will be provided—as it is for full-timers—through the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund. I am happy to add that the union also won new benefits: adjuncts eligible for health insurance will be entitled to receive individual optical, hearing and dental benefits through the Welfare Fund.  An agreement on the new health insurance program and these additional benefits was signed this week by the union, the CUNY administration and the City of New York.  

The agreement is a landmark in the PSC’s history of fighting for equity for adjuncts.  For fourteen years the union campaigned and negotiated for the provision of health insurance and prescription drug coverage for eligible adjuncts through the same program that offers health insurance for full-timers.  We took a collective, principled stand on equity, and at last we have succeeded.  After an intense union campaign waged by full-timers and part-timers in alliance, the PSC gained the University as a partner, and then won crucial support from the Governor’s Office and—under Mayor de Blasio—the Office of the Mayor. 

Everyone who had a hand in this victory, which defies the current austerity agenda of reducing worker benefits, can be proud.  Special thanks are due to CUNY’s Office of Labor Relations and to the Mayor. We should also thank the Welfare Fund Trustees, who remained rock-solid in their commitment to adjuncts and to protecting benefits for all covered CUNY faculty and staff.

I’m sure you have many questions about the new coverage; the PSC, the Welfare Fund, the University and the City are working together to ensure that all your questions are answered. This is just the first of many communications you will receive.  Watch your email and home mail for several important notices: information on the new plan from the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund and the University Benefits Office, and the required legal notice that the current coverage is ending on September 30.  You will need to bring the legal HIPAA notice with you to your College Human Resources Office when you enroll in the new plan.  Because this is a new plan there is no automatic transfer; each adjunct must enroll individually in order to be covered.  CUNY has set September 19 as the enrollment deadline.

CUNY has developed a website with detailed information about the new plan, and has also set up a dedicated Adjunct Health Insurance phone line to address your questions.  The University will soon be sending you information about both.  

Meanwhile, it may be helpful to summarize the main features of the agreement on adjunct health insurance coverage:  

  • As of October 1, 2014, individual health insurance coverage will be provided by CUNY to eligible adjuncts through the New York City Health Benefits Program, the same program through which full-timers are covered.  The current adjunct health insurance, through the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund, will be discontinued on September 30, 2014. 
  • All adjuncts currently receiving adjunct health insurance through the Welfare Fund will be eligible to enroll in the new plan, assuming their employment at CUNY and other eligibility factors are unchanged.  The current eligibility requirements remain in place.
  • In order to maintain coverage for the fall 2014 semester, eligible adjuncts must be enrolled in the existing plan through the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund, which will offer coverage from the beginning of the semester through September 30.  Eligible adjuncts must then enroll in the new program in order to be covered starting October 1.  CUNY will provide information on how to enroll through the College Human Resources Office.
  • As under the current plan, coverage under the NYC Health Benefits Program will be provided for individuals only; those wishing to enroll in family coverage will be required to pay the difference between the relevant individual and family plan.  Also as under the current plan, coverage under the City plan extends only during active employment, not into retirement.
  • As participants in the City health plan, eligible adjuncts will have access to the same wide selection of individual plans as active full-time employees, including two options—GHI-CBP/Blue Cross and HIP-HMO—that do not require payment of premiums.  Like full-timers, adjuncts who select health insurance options that require additional payments will need to pay premium costs.
  • Participants are likely to find that many of their current doctors and other medical providers are included in the options available through the NYC Health Benefits Program.  But as with enrollment in any new plan, enrollment in the City plan may involve some change in providers.  It would be a good idea to begin now to compare the different plans and check with your doctors about the insurance they accept.
  • Prescription drug coverage under the new plan will be provided, as it is for full-timers, through the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund. Adjuncts who are receiving health insurance will be eligible for individual prescription drug coverage, on the same basis as full-timers’ individual drug coverage, while they are in active employment.
  • Adjuncts who are receiving health insurance will also be eligible for new benefits: individual dental, hearing and optical benefits through the Welfare Fund. 

The PSC bargaining team is proud of what we were able to achieve in the agreement for a new health insurance plan, especially at a time when workers are facing enormous pressure to reduce benefits.  Ideally, we would like to have won even more—family coverage, a shorter waiting period to qualify, coverage into retirement.  Those goals remain for future campaigns.  For now, we can celebrate what we have won together, and support each other in the union’s upcoming campaign for a fair contract for all.  I extend my profound thanks to you for your patience throughout this long, tough process, and I wish you good health.  

In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY

P. S.     I am grateful to the Welfare Fund for sending this letter on behalf of the union, maintaining confidentiality about names and addresses of those who participate in the adjunct health insurance program. I also thank the Welfare Fund staff for their extraordinary efforts to support adjuncts through this transition.

 

 

 

 

 

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