WELFARE TRUST FUND NEWSLETTER
VOL. 23, No.1
Trustees to the NECA-IBEW Welfare Trust Fund are constantly monitoring
the finances of the Fund to ensure there are reserves to maintain
the current level of benefits. At the same time, the Trustees
review benefit changes submitted by individual Trustees. At present,
several such items are being reviewed for future consideration.
The following are just a few changes, which have been approved
by the Board of Trustees:
Continuing Eligibility During Disabilities
This Applies to All Active Participants
you become totally disabled, the Plan allows you to continue eligibility
during a disability for up to 21 months. Currently, the Plan requires
you to use your Hour Bank reserves first to continue eligibility.
Then, once you use all of your Hour Bank reserves, eligibility
continues for the remainder of the disability, at no cost to you,
until a period of 21 months has elapsed since the disability began.
June 1, 2007, this Plan prevision is changing. While your eligibility
for coverage will continue, at no cost to you, for up to 21 months
from the time your total disability begins, you no longer need to use your Hour Bank reserves first.
This could mean that if your disability lasts less than 21 months,
your Hour Bank reserves will be available to help you re-establish
eligibility for coverage when you can return to covered employment.
COBRA Continuation Coverage
certain situations when your coverage under the Plan would otherwise
end, you may be eligible to continue coverage, for up to 36 months,
by electing COBRA Continuation Coverage.
COBRA Continuation Coverage under the Plan includes:
Medical, prescription drug, dental and vision
benefits for you and/or your dependents; and
Death and accidental death and dismemberment
benefits for you (weekly disability benefits are not available).
you are eligible and elect COBRA Continuation Coverage, you must
make monthly self-payments. Each year the Trustees review the
cost of providing this coverage and determine the monthly self-payment
amount. Effective June 1, 2007, the monthly self-payment
amount for COBRA Continuation Coverage will be $695.
For more information
about COBRA Continuation Coverage, active participants can refer
to pages 19-20 of the 2006 Edition of your SPD.
Smoking Cessation – Better Late Than Never
May 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Chantix
(varenicline), which is a prescription medicine for the treatment
of smoking cessation manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. Since the Plan
covers oral medications for smoking cessation that are prescribed
by a physician, Chantix is now a covered Plan expense. Please
note that over-the-counter (OTC) products are not covered.
available as 0.5 mg or 1 mg tablets. The recommended dose is 1
mg twice daily (after the patient starts a one-week plan of gradually
increasing amounts to reach the 1 mg twice-a-day level). Common
side effects of Chantix include nausea, change in dreaming, constipation,
gas, and vomiting. Chantix is not recommended for children under
18 years of age.
If you smoke
and are thinking of quitting, you should know that it’s
never too late to quit smoking. If you want to quit, talk to your
doctor or contact one of the many organizations that offer smokers
help to quit. The American Lung Associations web site, www.lungusa.org
has a “Quit Smoking” section, which includes support
for the smoker who’s trying to quit as well as reasons to
quit. Once you quit smoking, in as little as 20 minutes your body
starts having positive results such as a reduction in pulse rate
and blood pressure. After 1 year, excess risk of coronary heart
disease is decreased to half that of a smoker. After 10 years,
the risk of lung cancer drops to as little as half that of a smoker.
An HRA Coming Your Way!
Trustees take their responsibility of representing your healthcare
interests seriously and are always looking for new and innovative
ways to provide benefits that meet your and your family’s
needs. As a result, the Trustees are pleased to announce that
the Welfare Trust Fund will include a Health Reimbursement Arrangement
is an HRA? Simply put, an HRA (or Health Reimbursement
Arrangement) is an account that the Fund sets up and maintains
on your behalf. You can use money in your HRA to pay for eligible
healthcare related expenses.
Trustees considered many options, the way the Fund’s HRA
works gives you the greatest flexibility to meet your individual
needs. This is an exciting addition to the Plan and we wanted
to tell you some basics of what’s coming your way. This
information is only an introduction to the Fund’s new HRA;
detailed information will be provided separately.
How an HRA Works
You work for a contributing employer that contributes
to the Fund on your behalf.
A portion of employer contributions made on
your behalf will be credited to an HRA account established in
your name. Only employer contributions may be deposited into
your HRA; you contribute nothing.
As you incur eligible healthcare expenses, you
can use the money in your HRA account to pay for these expenses.
You must pay for the expenses up front and then submit a claim
for reimbursement to the Fund.
A couple advantages of an HRA Account include:
You determine how to use the money in your HRA
account. You can choose to save it up and use it for larger
expenses or use it to pay for eligible expenses as you incur
Your HRA Account is available for reimbursement
of your eligible expenses as well as for those of your dependents.
Expenses Eligible for Reimbursement
from your HRA Account
HRA may only be used to pay for eligible healthcare expenses as
defined by the Internal Revenue Code, Section 213. A wide range
of eligible expenses are covered. Here is just a sampling of eligible
Dental treatment and X-rays
Fees paid to health institute prescribed by
Hearing aids and batteries
Insurance premiums for health care coverage
when receiving federal or state unemployment benefits
Insurance premiums for Medicare
Long-term care for medical expenses and qualified
long-term care insurance premiums (up to certain limits)
Medications (prescription and over-the-counter)
Physician and hospital services
Prescription birth control pills and contraceptive
Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and psychologist
please note that you cannot use your HRA for any expense reimbursed
from another source, such as another group insurance program,
or if you have or will deduct the expense on your income taxes.
NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE
new NETime Benefit Login has been implemented into our web page
www.neca-ibew.org effective May 25, 2007. You will be using the
same “Benefits Login” link to access the site but
you will be instructed to request a user name first. After clicking
“request username” you will be taken to another page
to fill in some pertinent information to verify you are a member
of the Fund. You will need to fill in user type, (which is member
if you are the member or dependent if you are a dependent of the
member) first name, last name, social security number, date of
birth and zip code. After filling in all required fields and hitting
the submit button, you will be given a notice that tells you when
to expect your username and password. Remember, each person has
to be logged in separately. If the member logs in, he/she will
see only information that pertains to him or her.
When you receive
your letter, you will find your temporary userid and password.
The first time you use the information given to login, you will
have the opportunity to change your userid and password to something
unique. Along with changing username and password, you will be
allowed to answer a challenge question to help you remember your
password. A successful response to a challenge question permits
a resetting of your password in case it is forgotten.
Click the submit button. You now have entered your benefits screen.
Use the links at the top of the page to view the benefits that
would apply to you. Please keep your userid and password in a
safe place. You will use this information each time you login.
If you have
any questions or concerns, please email the Fund at email@example.com
newsletter contains only highlights of certain features of the
NECA-IBEW Welfare Trust Fund. Full details are contained in the
documents that establish the Plan provisions. If there is a discrepancy
between the wording here and the documents that establish the
Plan, the document language will govern. The Trustees reserve
the right to amend, modify, or terminate the Plan at any time.