University of Minnesota union to hold health care rally today

checkup

The union representing University of Minnesota clerical workers plans to rally today to protest planned health care increases.

The noon gathering on Northrop Plaza will oppose what the union says is a $1.8 million overall increase in the form of higher premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other changes.

They instead propose an employee health care plan that uses a sliding scale based on an employee’s income.

Cherrene Horazuk, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, said the increase will hurt members already hit hard by past cost increases.

“We’ve heard from members who say they’ve already been cutting back on health care,” she said.

Horazuk had no ready numbers this morning on how much the average increase would be. She did say an employee who went to the doctor three times a month would pay an extra $50 a month — or $600 a year — not including a $100 deductible.

“That’s pretty significant for people on the lower end of the wage scale,” she said.

In a follow-up email, she wrote:

Regarding the average number of office visits, and the average cost increases based on that – we filed a data request with the University months ago (I want to say April or May), asking for the number of office visits and prescription copays per insured member. Though the U is required to give this information based on public data laws, they have not provided the info. That has made it difficult to say what the average usage or average number of copays would be.

Again, if you see a specialist (or specialists) twice a month, and a primary care doc once a month, your costs will increase $50 a month. We have heard from numerous members and other employees at the U who have said they are in that situation. If you think about a family of four, it is reasonable to think that as a group, they may have three appointments combined in a month.”

Musician Billy Bragg is scheduled to perform during the rally.

I’ve contacted the U for reaction and will report that in when I get it.