November 14, 2013 - For participants in the Fund, or the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund, open enrollment can be met through the Fund's website, or by filling out a the open enrollment packet sent to your home. It is important to know that for eligible members working with the Kroger Metro and Dundee, Milan and Monroe contracts, enrollment must be completed online.
Click here for access to both online and downloadable forms from the Fund.
October 10, 2013 - For Kroger members working under the Metro and Milan, Dundee and Monroe contracts, please be aware if you are going on a medical leave, you must obtain, complete and return to the appropriate offices, two forms: 1) The MetLife Leave of Absence Form, obtainable through your store manager, and 2) The Time Loss Form, obtainable through the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund's office by calling 1.800.322.8190, or by going online at mufcwbenefits.com, or getting a form through your Steward.
October 1, 2013 - Open enrollment for health care benefits through the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund will run from October 28 through November 20, 2013 for eligible participants working for the following employers: Beavers Supermarkets, Hollywood Markets, The Kroger Company, Dundee, Milan & Monroe and Metro contracts, Oleson's Food Stores, Plumb's Inc., Riverside Market, Hiller's Market, Turri's Italian Foods, Southfield Alternative Care Clinic and Smith Meat Packing.
The Health and Welfare Plan benefit coverage includes medical, prescription drug, vision, dental, time loss weekly disability, life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D).
The Plan provides employee-only coverage for employees eligible for part-time benefits. Only employees eligible for full-time benefits may include dependents, once the employee has met all qualifying periods and has enrolled them in a timely manner.
The Plan provides four election choices for participants eligible for full-time coverage; employee only; employee plus child, employee plus spouse and family.
To receive coverage, members must enroll during this open enrollment period or within 30 days of first becoming eligible for benefits. Benefits are grouped, meaning enrollment grants access to all of the benefits listed prior. Participants cannot select only the benefits they would like.
Stewards working at the employers listed are asked to take an active role in notifying coworkers of the importance of the enrollment period window.
Failure to enroll during this window will result in the expiration of benefits on December 31, 2013. Participants missing this period will not be eligible to enroll for benefits again until the fall of 2014, for 2015 coverage.
Open enrollment packets will be mailed to participants' homes during the third week of October. If a participant does not receive this mailing, they should contact the Fund office at 1.800.322.8190.
Members can also enroll online at www.mufcwbenefits.com. For participants working at The Kroger Company, online enrollment is mandatory.
The Fund office will be holding extended office hours to better assist during open enrollment. Office hours will be from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday with additional hours on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Fund office is located on the first floor of the union hall at 876 Horace Brown Drive in Madison Heights.
Please note the Health Care Reform brings with it variables and stipulations not yet known. The Fund will keep participants informed and updated.
"Health care reform criteria, implementation, standards, access and the delivery of services continues to take shape in Michigan," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "Current contractual protections remain for those who are still in a contract window or have ratified prior to March 28. However, plans created after this date will be vulnerable to any developments the Affordable Care Act brings."
October 1, 2013 - Important Information for Eligible Participants in the "Fund" Recently I received a letter from our International President Joe Hansen. Who by the way, was elected to another term at the 7th Regular Constitutional Convention held last month.
In the letter, Hansen stressed his efforts in bringing the concerns and issues unions face with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and efforts to modify it to level the playing field with Taft-Hartley funds. Which includes our Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund is, also commonly referred to as the "Fund" here in the union hall, and by the membership.
UFCW continues to protect these Taft-Hartley funds as they keep members in a safe zone while the "marketplaces" and "exchanges" form under the ACA. And, in the long term, they guarantee important protections that are insulated from the uncertainties the ACA is currently experiencing.
In a meeting at the White House, Hansen, along with AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, Teamsters President Jim Hoffa, UNITE HERE President D. Taylor, Building Trades President Sean McGarvey, and Obama staff persons including; Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, discussions revolved around the need to protect UFCW member's health care plans.
Hansen stated he felt this event helped lay the groundwork for an in-person meeting with President Barack Obama in the coming weeks.
Although the White House administration voiced their legal objection to deeming Taft-Hartley funds as qualified health plans eligible for subsidies under the ACA, they pressed on.
A Taft-Hartley fund is a multi-employer plan that is collectively bargained by more than one employer, usually within the same or related industry, and a labor union to create a fund to protect workers through the establishment of either a pension or health care plan.
Hansen continues in his letter the point that our health care funds, and many like them in the United States should be allowed to compete on a level playing field.
Governmental recognition of the union's health care fund is imperative for its survival, especially in an environment where other plans will be subsidized, guaranteeing their longevity.
As our nation gears up for the next step of implementation of ACA, by law, working persons can expect a letter from their employers.
You can expect this letter in the coming weeks. It is called the "Exchange Notice." Its purpose is to notify all employees on how the exchanges or marketplaces will work; (marketplaces are online exchanges where anyone can shop for, compare and buy health insurance) and also provide tax credit eligibility.
You can also expect a second letter if you are an eligible participant of the "Fund." It will explain in great detail your responsibility in this process and lay out the stipulations of Health Care Reform and open enrollment for 2014.
I cannot urge enough that members read all materials provided to them, including communications from both UFCW 876 and the "Fund." Any question should warrant a quick phone call for clarification.
September 27, 2013 - The next step in the Affordable Health Care act will result in a letter to every working person in our country called the "Exchange Notice." Its purpose is to provide notification on how the exchanges or marketplaces will work and also provide tax credit eligibility.
Active participants in the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund, the "Fund" can expect a second letter, that will explain your responsibility in this process and lay out the stipulations of Health Care Reform and open enrollment for 2014. Remember these very important facts if you are a participant of the "Fund:"
1. If you continue to meet the eligibility requirements under the "Fund" or plan, your plan coverages will remain in effect. The marketplace will not affect your coverage under our plan. This included retired members who are participating in the Retiree Health Care Plan.
2. Due to the Fund's plan being considered very affordable and far above the minimum value established by the government, your eligibility for coverage under our plan makes you and your eligible dependents ineligible for premium tax credits through the marketplace to buy health insurance.
3. If you elected to not participate in the open enrollment process through the "Fund" between October 28 and November 20, 2013, and instead decide to buy health insurance through the marketplace, you will be solely responsible for paying the entire cost of the health insurance you buy.
4. Neither your employer nor the "Fund" will help you pay for the health insurance you buy online through the marketplace. Participating employers will continue to contribute to this plan as part of your wage package. But members will not receive coverage under this plan if they do not enroll for benefits.