Daily Hire Flex Plan

Highlights of What You Need to Know

By Gina Stinnet, President, NABET-CWA Local 57

     The Flex Plan offers a "cafeteria style" benefit option list in which you design your individual plan according to your needs. Since you are under no obligation to participate in a "one size fits all" benefit arrangement, you will find that you can custom tailor benefit selections that are right for you.

What is the purpose of the Flex Plan?

     The Entertainment Industry Flex Plan is an employee benefit plan which combines both Employer Contributions and Employee Contributions to fund a full array of welfare benefits such as medical, dental, vision, disability, group term life insurance and dependent care assistance (child care).

     The Flex Plan is an IRS‑approved Welfare Trust Fund which permits monies to be contributed to your individual account with the Plan that under present law are not subject to income tax.

When Do You Become Eligible to Participate?

     Once your account has accumulated approximately $100.00 of employer and voluntary employee contributions.

How is it paid for?

      The Flex Plan requires that the participating Company make a contribution for each employee covered by the Plan.  There is no “opt out” provision.  Under the terms bargained by the parties, ABC’s contribution of $10 per day for each daily hire employee reduces the daily hire premium from $50 a day to $40.  For Radio Program Coordinators, the $10 a day reduces wages.

        At first glance, some dailies ask, “What’s in this for me since the Company is making the Flex Plan contribution out of my daily hire premium?”  Answer: The monies, which go into the Flex Plan, are PRE-TAX DOLLARS.

     Here’s an example:   If you are in the 37% combined tax rate, you are gaining 37% on those contributions. If you had received that $10 as wages, you’d have only $6.30 to spend on medical insurance.  But since it goes into the Flex Plan as pre-tax dollars, you have the whole $10 to spend, plus the advantage of being able to buy medical insurance at group rates.   

     This is just the beginning.  Once we have our foot in the door, we’ll be able to argue for increases in Company-paid contributions at future negotiations.

 

Flex Plan

     The Flex Plan allows you to make choices as an individual. You receive credit for every dollar that is contributed to the plan on your behalf. If you already have health insurance from another source, you are not required to elect coverage from the Flex Plan. You may use the monies contributed on your behalf for other purposes, including paying for your pre-existing coverage.

     If your account is short, you may pay the difference to continue your coverage, subject to plan rules. Employer contributions made on your behalf are not lost for failure to reach a certain "qualifying" level, but are held in the Alternate Benefit (AB) Account and may be used to pay insurance premiums or used to reimburse allowable expenses in accordance with Plan guidelines.

 

A Plan for Everybody

     The number of options you choose from the "menu of benefits" will be determined by your personal needs as well as how much money you have in your Flex Plan account. If you are employed regularly by one or more employers, you will probably have enough money in your account to have medical insurance premiums paid by the Plan, for you and your family, on a monthly basis.

     ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX all participate in the Flex Plan on your behalf as long as the job position you are in is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a contribution.

     In some cases, individuals will not require health insurance because it may be already provided by a spouse's employer or another plan and they will decide to use the funds in the account on other benefits offered.

Employee Contributions

     Increasing the contribution to your account through pre‑tax payroll deductions can decrease your taxable wages and is particularly valuable in instances where your insurance premiums or other Dependent Child expenses exceed the monthly employer contributions to your account.

     (Editor’s Note:  There are differences between the way employer and employee contributions are treated.  If you elect to make employee contributions, read the Plan carefully.)    

 Enrollment in the Plan

     By May 15, 2000, the Flex Plan should begin receiving employer contributions from ABC on your behalf. Once you become eligible to participate, as described above, you will be sent an enrollment package, provided the Flex Plan is able to obtain your address.   Packages are generally mailed by the 10th of the month following the month you qualify.

     When you believe sufficient contributions have  been made on your behalf and you have not received information from the Flex Plan, call the Member Services Department to confirm the Plan has your correct address on file. It is very important that you call your in elections to the Flex Plan, even if you do not wish coverage from the Flex Plan.

     If you do not complete your enrollment within the period provided, you will not be eligible to make insurance elections or dependent care allocations until the next Open Enrollment period. If your account accumulates sufficient funds to make three months medical insurance premium payments, you will be automatically enrolled under the default carrier with single coverage. You will not have the option to make other insurance elections at that time.

 
Can Plan Elections be changed?

     Once you enroll in the Flex Plan, you may not withdraw or make any changes to benefit selections, cancel or change insurance elections until the next open enrollment period unless you have a change in family status. Also, the change to your benefit selection(s) must be consistent  with your change in family status.

        Note: In order to process your change, the Flex Plan must receive notification of your change in writing within 30 days of the event.

  Am I required to have Medical Insurance?

     The insurance carriers require that all participants with sufficient account balances be insured. When your account balance reaches $600, you are required to be insured. Your coverage may be from one of the following sources:

     If you do not elect medical insurance coverage from one of the Flex Plan providers, you are required to show proof of insurance. If the proof of insurance is not provided to the Plan within the period provided, the Flex Plan is required to enroll you under the default carrier with single coverage.

     Additional information for Individual Policies: If you hold an individual policy, the Flex Plan is required to make your premium payments for you to ensure continued coverage, or you must submit evidence that the policy is in force in accordance with plan guidelines, or you must pay your premiums through the end of the calendar year. Coverage from a Flex Plan provider may only be elected during the Open Enrollment period or upon termination of coverage by another insurance provider (provided you can certify the termination was due to circumstances beyond your control).

 What if your Account Balance is not sufficient to cover your insurance premium payment(s)?

     If you do not have sufficient funds in your account to pay your premiums, the Flex Plan allows you to "self-pay" the necessary premiums for a period of 18 months.  (Editor’s Note: see the full Plan Information Document for specifics on how this works.)

  Medical Insurance Premium Reimbursement

     If your spouse pays for your coverage through their employer and has additional funds withheld from their pay to cover you (and your dependents) under their medical plan, you can be reimbursed for those expenses as well.  (Editor’s Note: see the full Plan Information Document for specifics on how this works.)

 

Other Topics

          This was an abbreviated overview of the Flex Plan, and in case of any discrepancies, the actual plan documents govern.  You can view the Plan documents at <www.flexplan.com>.  A copy will also be mailed to you after you become eligible.  For information on COBRA rights, benefit descriptions, additional enrollment information, open enrollment periods, appeal rights, social security impact, domestic partner benefits and other issues,  please  refer  to  the Summary Plan Description (SPD).

Daily Hire CWA 401k Plan

You Have the Opportunity To:

 

¨     Save on your current taxes

¨     Benefit from tax-deferred growth  

¨     Pay no taxes on money in the Plan until withdrawal**— your earnings compound and you earn interest without any reduction for current taxes

¨     Decide where to invest your account, taking advantage of professionally managed funds

¨     Enjoy a wide range of investment    information and opportunity

¨     Have easy access to your account  information

 

The CWA Savings and Retirement Trust is the smart way to save for retirement!

Need more information?

Contact Eric Zakarin
of Paine Webber

(800) 352-7954

If you are already a plan participant, check out your account on-line <www.net401k.com>

**Certain early withdrawals subject to tax. See plan documents for details.

A Flex Plan provider (shown in the Summary of Benefits brochure)

Another Collectively Bargained Plan

Medicare

Your spouse

An Individual Policy you hold (the Flex Plan must make your payments, or you must show your policy is in force on an ongoing basis)

For further information go to www.flexplan.com