Originally at NWLaborpress.org
January 28, 2010 -- Nearly 2,000 Portland-area grocery, meat, and retail workers and their families — 5,700 people in all — were dropped from the Kaiser Permanente health system Jan. 1. Their union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, blamed employer-side representatives on the multi-employer health trust: Management trustees on the UFCW 555 Portland Area Employers Health Trust did not support renewing Kaiser as an option after rates went up 15 percent for 2009 and 19 percent for 2010.
That left union members and their families only one choice — a traditional “indemnity” insurance plan administered by Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, in which the trust pays 85 percent if patients use doctors and hospitals on a preferred provider list. (It pays 75 percent if they go elsewhere.) Kaiser, by contrast, is a health maintenance organization, charging the trust a flat monthly rate per person for access to a members-only health care system.
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