Boeing to change health care for nonunion workers

Boeing recently outlined changes to its 2013 health care plan for nonunion U.S. workers.

In an internal newsletter, Boeing said the changes would put the company’s health care plan more in line with other major aerospace companies.

The company is offering no contribution plan, which Boeing believes will be the most cost-effective plan for many people. Boeing will increase employee contributions on other offered health plans.

Boeing and local district 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers agreed to a new contract late last year, nearly a year ahead of schedule. That contract caps out-of-pocket expenses but increased what members pay.

The company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace are negotiating a new contract in which health care costs likely will be a major topic of discussion.

Here’s the recent story on health care for nonunion workers from Boeing’s internal newsletter:

Boeing will broadly restructure its 2013 health care plans for nonunion, U.S.-based employees with a range of plan changes that were previewed with employees last fall. The changes are being made as Boeing pursues a “two-part goal to offer market-leading health care benefits while remaining competitive and securing our future,” according to Rick Stephens, senior vice president, Human Resources and Administration.

As part of this restructure, the company will introduce the Advantage+ health plan. This plan option will have no paycheck contributions in most locations, and will feature an optional health savings account – made up of Boeing contributions and voluntary pre-tax employee contributions – that can be used by employees to pay deductibles and other eligible medical expenses. “Based on an analysis of past health care claims, we believe the Advantage+ health plan will be the most cost-effective plan for many employees and families,” Stephens explained.

Boeing will increase employee contribution levels for most of the other plans. “Our market analysis shows that employees at aerospace peer companies pay between 15 and 20 percent of the cost of their health care plans in monthly paycheck contributions while Boeing employees pay on average 3 percent,” Stephens said. “We must begin to narrow the gap in order to remain competitive. While that will mean increasing employee contribution levels for most plans, Boeing will continue to cover the vast majority of health care costs for employees, while working with suppliers to lower expenses and with policymakers to improve the quality and efficiency of our health care system.”

In addition, the company will place greater emphasis on employee well-being. This year, the health screenings and assessments are being bundled with opportunities for health coaching into the new Step by Step program designed to help employees and their families learn and understand their health numbers and take action to improve their health where possible. For all medical plan options next year, employees’ decisions on whether or not to participate in the screenings and health assessment will affect their paycheck contributions.

In announcing the changes, Stephens emphasized the need for employees to carefully examine the company’s health plan options and “take the time to make a deliberate choice” that is right for their personal situation.

These changes to nonunion health care plans for 2013 are detailed in a letter mailed to employees’ homes on June 14, a copy of which is available in the 2013 Health Care Benefits Toolkit.

“We understand how important health care benefits are to you and your family,” Stephens said. “We are committed to maintaining our ability to offer high-quality health care plans – with affordable, market-leading health care benefits. And it is equally important that we continue to emphasize your personal responsibility for managing your health and your health care expenses.”

Employees will receive more information about the 2013 health care plan changes prior to annual enrollment in the fall. In the meantime, a set of Frequently Asked Questions that provides answers to some common questions is available on the 2013 Health Care Benefits Toolkit, and a mailbox has been established to enable employees to ask questions and provide comments.

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