I was employed at Warner Bros. Studios for 37 years. During 27 of those years, I was either Chief Steward or President of the Warner Bros. Clerical Union. We always received the same benefits that the larger Basic Crafts & IATSE unions were able to get in their negotiations.
All during my 37 years at Warner Bros. I was able to go to the local Motion Picture Health Plan Clinic in Burbank and get all the medical attention or referrals I needed, all with absolutely no co-pay, with the exception of $10 for dental and vision visits.
This Motion Picture Health Plan was considered one of the absolute best in the whole country.
I retired 9 years ago, and for the first 8 years, Motion Picture/Blue Cross paid all the medical bills I received with Medicare paying the first 80% and Motion Picture/Blue Cross paying the remaining 20%.
All that changed August 1, 2009 when Motion Picture switched to Blue Shield and Motion Picture/Blue Shield arbitrarily put new caps on what they would pay for all charges from doctors. For the 12 months between August 1, 2009, and August 1, 2010 this resulted in $1,100 in charges that Motion Picture/Blue Shield would not and did not pay.
I appealed these charges with an 11-page letter describing every dollar they would not pay. Three months later, I received a form letter, saying that my appeal was denied, and that all medical claims were paid appropriately.
I realize that medical insurance has risen in cost over the last 5-10 years, but to go from $0- to $1,100 in 12 months suggests something has gone terribly wrong.
A United Health Care commercial shows a woman running in a park with all those numbers moving around her body, and then at the end of the commercial, United Health Care proudly states, “72,000 employees to take care of 7,000,000 Americans.”
Well, that is where your medical dollars are going today: to those 72,000 employees and their CEOs. The HMOs and the huge conglomerate healthcare companies we have today actually make more money by denying many people the health care they desperately need.
It is a moral shame for these people to be making money from the health of Americans.
Palm Springs, CA
I have to modify one word in the above letter, “arbitrarily.” I have been told by the Motion Picture Health Plan that the change was negotiated by the two large craft Hollywood Unions. Of course that was not prominently noted in correspondence to the members.