AFA Debrief: March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023
AFA Debrief – March 21, 2023
· CQ Rebalancing Bids Close March 23, 2023
· The Interaction of Benefits Premiums and Time Away from Work
· Group Universal Life Insurance
CQ Rebalancing Bids Close Thursday March 23
As a reminder the CQ rebalancing bids close this Thursday, March 23 at noon CST. To verify if you are impacted, and to ensure you have the information you need, please reference our article dated March 14, 2023 on this subject.
The Interaction of Benefits Premiums and Time Away from Work
With increasing regularity, our MEC Benefits Committee is fielding questions from Members who are finding themselves in the disadvantaged position of having lost access to their health and wellness benefits following periods of time away from the workplace.
It isn’t just one particular type of “time away from work” option that is resulting in the loss of benefits. In fact, it can be one of many and these can be used in isolation or in some combination. Special COLAs, Medical Leaves (including Occupational Leaves), Parental Leaves or through the voluntary reduction in one’s schedule that occurs as a result of trading away (dropping) pairings with other Flight Attendants or personal time off (PTO) can all contribute to the potential loss of benefits if one does not deliberately monitor their benefit premiums to ensure they are paid timely.
While we are working, we take for granted that our premiums are deducted automatically from our paychecks. And, because this happens with such regularity, it is easier to lose track of our premium payments than you might think. When we are ill or have been injured on the job, our attention is further diverted into focusing on a return to health and away from monitoring premium payments. In some cases, and because there is a short “grace” period that is applied before benefits are discontinued, it is easy to be led to believe that they continue indefinitely while on a leave. This is not the case. The best rule of thumb: the employee bears the cost of benefits. The employee is responsible to ensure these payments are made during any period of leave or unpaid absence.
We offer the following tips to help you monitor your health and welfare premiums while away from work:
First, always ensure the company has your current address on file. This is of critical importance because when premiums begin to fall into arrears, management will send a notice of premium due to your address of record which is intended as a safety net to protect your continued coverage.
Secondly, we cannot stress the importance of reviewing your monthly pay advice as the singular most direct way of verifying if premiums have been deducted from your pay.
Flying Together >> Employee Services >> My Info/Manager’s Toolbox >> Pay Advices Tile
In the event a review of your pay advice reveals that premiums for benefits were not deducted, access Your Benefits Resource as a way of determining if premiums are due. Any premiums owed will be posted at YBR.
Flying Together >> Employee Services>> Your Benefits Resource
If you have balance listed here, follow the instructions to pay directly through an ACH payment from your checking or savings account or via a credit card. Be aware, credit card transactions have a 3% surcharge.
If you are unable to determine the payment status for your health & wellness premiums, it is never safe to assume they have been made. Always contact the UABC at 1 800 651 1007 during the hours of 7 AM to 7 PM CT to establish the status of your benefits payments.
Why, you might ask, should I be concerned? Can’t I just resume making payments when I return to work? It is important to understand that the length of time you are away from work will impact how your health and welfare premiums are handled. Once you fall behind in the payment of benefit premiums, known as arrears, you will be converted from payroll deduction to a direct bill and pay status. In order to return to payroll deduction, you must satisfy any outstanding amounts in the direct bill system. Failure to make those payments can place you continued coverage in jeopardy.
Paying for premiums is critical for a number of reasons. If caught in time, reinstatement of benefits can be accomplished but the process is tedious and can take up to 45 days to accomplish – if you are eligible for reinstatement. Under United’s Plan, employees are entitled to a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinstate benefits that are cancelled for non-payment of premiums outside of open enrollment. However, the process requires you to file an appeal during which time you will not have access to benefits coverage.
While perhaps time consuming, any time spent verifying that premiums have been paid is time well spent. Avoiding the cancellation of coverage during a period where you may need coverage is to your advantage. If you have additional questions, please contact your Local Council Benefits Committee.
Group Universal Life Insurance
Group Universal Life Insurance (GUL) is the voluntary life insurance product for all Flight Attendants.
For Flight Attendants returning from Leaves of Absence (LOA), including those returning from Special COLAs, auto-enrollment in Group Universal Life Coverage (GUL), administered by Securian, will occur for those who did not elect to maintain coverage while on Leave or who had not previously elected this coverage.
These individuals will be enrolled in Group Universal Life Coverage under the same conditions as a new hire Flight Attendant. With no requirement to provide Evidence of Insurability (EOI), Flight Attendants are automatically provided coverage at four (4) times their annual salary and $30,000 coverage for a spouse/domestic partner.
Additionally, if the Flight Attendant reduced her/his coverage below the default coverage limits, the auto-enrollment feature will “bump up” the coverage back up to four times the annual salary for the employee and $30,000 for the spouse or domestic partner.
In every instance when coverage is reinstated through the auto-enrollment process, an enrollment package is mailed from Securian’s office the following day directly to the employee at her/his address of record with United Airlines. The package includes a notice advising that auto-enrollment has occurred and the coverage that is being provided along with instructions on how to go about cancelling coverage if it is not wanted.
This auto-enrollment feature was negotiated in the interest of and for the protection of our Members. The auto-enrollment feature, along with no requirement to provide Evidence of Insurability, ensures that our Members who may have received an adverse medical determination while out on leave are able to provide some level of financial security for their family. Along with this auto-enrollment feature, AFA negotiated a 45-day period following auto-enrollment during which the employee is able to cancel coverage without penalty and is guaranteed a return of any premiums paid if cancelled during this period.
In the event the Flight Attendant does not want this default GUL coverage, or wants to reduce it, they must respond to the enrollment kit received from Securian during the 45-day window. To cancel or reduce coverage, the most effective and expeditious way to cancel/decline coverage is to call Securian directly at 866 887 1043 and advise the Securian representative of your desire to do so. Securian has an electronic process, utilizing Docusign, in place that will allow you to authorize the cancellation electronically. Keep in mind, if you and your spouse are auto-enrolled in coverage, you must request separate cancellation forms for both coverage types if your intent is to cancel coverage for both of you.
Keep in mind, until the cancellation form is processed by Securian, payroll deductions continue.
MAR – Women’s History Month
MAR 23 (noon CST) – CQ Rebalancing Bids Close
MAR 26 – Europe Change to Daylight Saving Time
APR 6 – CQ Rebalancing Awards Posted
APR 30 – The Joe Beirne Foundation CWA Scholarship Deadline
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