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E-Lines: October 10, 2017

Date: October 10, 2017

System Processing Error Affects Traditional PPO Claims with BCBSIL

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has advised United of a claims processing error affecting Members enrolled in the traditional PPO Medical plan.  The error occurred when the monthly process of updating the year-to-date accumulators, that is deductibles and out of pocket maximums, did not run as intended for the month of September.  Because of this system failure, all accumulators (e.g. deductibles) were reset to zero ($0) as of September 1.  Resetting this value to zero indicates to the system, incorrectly, that the employee has no dollars accumulated toward her/his deductible or out of pocket maximum.  Some claims have been paid incorrectly.   Once this issue was identified, BCBSIL put a hold on the Traditional PPO to “pend” incoming claims and stop them from processing incompletely.

We are learning a maximum of 812 AFA Members have been impacted by this issue.  BCBSIL will now begin to reprocess the claims received from September 1 – September 21 (the hold date) and will update the accumulators.

The next step in BCBSIL’s process is to ensure communication is sent to the affected employees to ensure they understand the process for the overpayments that may have been made to providers.  A targeted communication explaining this process is planned for distribution to affected employees by the end of this week. 

Employees having questions should contact Blue Cross/Blue Shield directly or their Local Council Office for assistance.

2018 Vacation Election Options Deadline – October 15

The deadline to make your 2018 vacation election is quickly approaching.Flight Attendants may elect the following options for their 2018 vacation:

401(k) Deferral Plan                  Vacation Buy Back              Vacation Flex

For additional information contact your Local Council office.

Vacation Buy Back Clarification

We’ve received a number of questions from those interested in participating in Vacation Buy Back.  Specifically, we’ve received a number of inquiries asking in the proceeds paid out for the Vacation Buy Back are subject to employee 401(k) deferrals and the employer company match.  We have been advised by payroll that earnings paid out as Vacation Buy Back are 401(k) eligible.

2018 Annual Benefits Open Enrollment Available Now - October 27

Open Enrollment for our 2018 Benefits are available by visiting Your Benefits Resource (YBR) which can be accessed from the Employee Services section of the company’s website now through October 27, 2017. Enrollment may be completed via the internet or over the phone.

n recent days, a ten-page Benefits Preview Guide which provides highlights of updates to medical benefits, prescription drug coverage, and wellness incentives as well as plan & dependent options, costs should have arrived at your address of record.  This resource provides you with the opportunity to compare the available coverage prior to making your 2018 open enrollment elections. Annual Enrollment fairs are also taking place in locations across the system.

Absent your participation in the open enrollment process, your current 2017 elections will carry over for 2018 with the exception of your health care and dependent care flexible-spending account (FSA) contributions and the $30/$60 co-pay Build Your Own (BYO) plan options. Even if you plan to keep the same coverage you currently have, you’ll still need to make spending account elections for 2018. Also, if currently enrolled in the $30/$60 co-pay option, you’ll need to visit YBR for your new default plan information.

Our AFA MEC Benefits Committee has played an integral role in reviewing the 2018 benefits available to Flight Attendants. Your Local Council Benefits Committee volunteers will be available throughout the annual open enrollment process to assist you with any questions you may have. 

Seasonal Flu Shots Now Available

The flu season is here and NOW is the perfect time to protect yourself against the possibility of catching this year’s strain. United is once again offering free flu shots to employees on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested Flight Attendants can stop by any of the on-site flu shot events to take advantage of this opportunity. Flu shots are also available at any CVS pharmacy, while supplies last. Just print the voucher available from the company website and follow the instructions.  For additional information, flu symptoms and prevention, visit the CDC website.

AFA & ALPA Professional Standards Announce, "Union First" Campaign

If you have an interpersonal issue on a trip with a flying partner, remember to "Contact your Union First". As an AFA member, you have access to the AFA Employee Assistance/Professional Standards (EAP/PS) Committee which serves as an alternative pathway to addressing co-worker conflicts without management involvement. AFA EAP/PS has a great working relationship with ALPA Professional Standards Committee to help address conflicts that arise between Flight Attendants and Pilots.

AFA and ALPA Professional Standards committee will be issuing luggage tags with the "UNION FIRST" logo along with contact information of our respective Professional Standards committees. We hope this luggage tag will serve as a reminder to use your Union resources first should conflict arises. Contacting your Professional Standards Committee often facilitates a quick resolution to most issues. Professional Standards members are trained in conflict resolution, can offer a third-party perspective, and can support behavior change through awareness.

If you are flying a pairing/ID and you find yourself experiencing difficulty working with fellow crew members (Pilot or Flight Attendant), please contact a Professional Standards Committee member immediately. History has shown that involving the committee immediately has helped many Flight Attendants and Pilots resolve their differences with maximum control over the outcome. When conflicts are reported to management and an investigation ensues, it does not always proceed as the complainant believes it will.

The committee has repeatedly seen that management settles these disputes to their satisfaction, and unfortunately, to the dissatisfaction of the employees involved.

December Offering - One Month COLAs & Jobshares

One month COLAs and JobShare may be offered for the December 2017 bid month. Interested Flight Attendants should submit a request no later than October 20, 2017, 10 am, home domicile time. Medical benefits at active employee rates are not included in this one-month COLA offering for December. Flight Attendants awarded this one-month COLA are not required to fly December carryover trips. 

For additional information on COLAs, reference JCBA Sections 15.B & 15.N. of our JCBA while Section 16 covers the provisions of the Jobshare program.

Purchase of Duty Free in Rome (FCO) Prohibited for Working Crewmembers

Flight Attendants working trips to and from Rome (FCO) should be aware that duty free purchases by working crewmembers are now prohibited. Duty free offers are intended strictly for customers holding valid boarding passes.

If you have questions or for additional information, contact your Local Council.

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