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Important Message for NSHA Central Zone Employees regarding Benefit Premium Changes

Dear members,

In the coming days you will be receiving a notification from your employer (NSHA) announcing an increase to your health and dental premiums. The NSGEU does not agree with these increases and has made our position known with your benefits administrator (HANS) and employer. (Click here to see our response.)

On July 1, 2018, your benefits plan administrator changed from NSHA Central Zone to Health Association Nova Scotia (HANS). At that time, HANS advanced $2.5 million to Great West Life to cover member claims. HANS has now made a decision to recoup this advance as soon as possible by passing the cost along to you, the plan members, through rate increases.

The issue is compounded by the fact that your employer mismanaged the plan when they decided to take a contribution holiday in 2016.

While other premiums, like life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, and long-term disability rates are decreasing slightly, your employer has made the decision to yet again raise your health and dental premiums.

Our position is that the employees – our members – should not be responsible for paying for poor financial management on behalf of their employer or plan administrator.

Both the health and dental benefit premium increases are, in our opinion, 6.4 per cent higher than needed to maintain your current plan, purely because of HANS’ insistence that they recover the funds they advanced when the plan transitioned. They’ve not allowed the rate plan changes made last year to come into effect for a full 12-month period to get an accurate sense of the impact.

We understand that all health care workers are feeling very disrespected by the government and employer: these rate increases come on top of wage restraint and punitive changes to your overtime pay.

NSGEU President Jason MacLean has already met with the Minister of Health to raise our concerns about what is going on with your benefits plans.

To be clear: the NSGEU is a part of the HANS and Central Zone Benefits Committee. In this role, we are only able to defend against plan design changes that we feel would be detrimental to our members. However, we have no say in HANS’ decision to set the rates.

This is not the union’s decision: it was a decision made by your employer and HANS. We urge all our members who are concerned about another round of rate increases, on the heels of last year’s premium and copay increases, to contact your benefits administrator and your MLA to express your displeasure.

Their contact information is below:

Susan Belmore-Vermes, HANS

902-832-8529, susan.belmorevermes@healthassociation.ns.ca

Find your MLA here:  https://nslegislature.ca/members/profiles

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