Frequently Asked Questions - Health Care
Q. I am on strike. What protections do I have that I will not go without needed health care?
A. A law called COBRA* requires group health plans to offer striking workers and their covered dependents the opportunity to continue health coverage for up to 18 months when they go on strike by paying for it out of their own pockets. This applies to medical, dental and vision benefits. Strikers do not have to continue any coverage, they can choose to pay for only the core medical benefits, or they can choose to pay for only themselves or only their dependents.
CWA has made a commitment to assist striking workers in paying for their health care needs out of the Robert Lilja Members Relief Fund (RLMRF) during their participation in the strike. Working with Local Union’s Community Services Committee, members can make decisions about the best way to cover their needs, and the Union will determine whether to pay for monthly premiums or to assist in paying for health care services on an “as needed” basis. *U.S.A. Bargaining Units Only
Q . When do I have to begin paying the premium if I elect to continue coverage?
A. COBRA allows you up to 60 days to decide whether you want to continue your coverage. If you make an election to continue, then you have another 45 days to pay the premium. However, before electing coverage or paying a premium, you should contact your Local Union’s Community Services Committee.
Q. I belong to an HMO. What happens if I need medical attention during the 60-day election period?
A. If you need medical attention before you have elected continuation coverage, but before the 60-day election period is over, the HMO may ask you to either elect continuation coverage at that time or to pay the reasonable and customary fee for the services required. If you can pay for the services at the time (by credit card if possible), do so. Then, immediately contact your Local Union’s Community Services Committee to begin the process of applying for assistance from the RLMRF.
Q. Who should I contact if I have any questions regarding my health care coverage?
A. If you have any other questions, you should contact your Local Union Officers or your Local’s Community Services Committee for further assistance.