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Perhaps the single greatest reason for the existence of IATSE in Texas is to provide access to benefits. For every hour you work as a freelancer for an employer under contract with IATSE 796 (FSN, Mobile TV Group, some PCS, LDM, Program Productions Inc.), the employer makes a contribution into a fund designated for your exclusive use. As an employer contribution, this is a personal benefit on which you do not pay income tax. To find the amounts the employer contributes, please refer to our Contracts.

You need not have any affiliation with the Union to receive these benefits. Employer contributions are made for ALL employees for ALL work done by a contracted Employer.

The IATSE uses a company called the National Benefit Fund (NBF). The NBF is a non-profit company that administers the funds contributed by the employers on our behalf. A board of trustees, that includes the IATSE and contributing employers, govern the NBF. It is a separate company than the IATSE union. Our union has no dealings with the NBF. Their website at www.iatsenbf.org can be very helpful finding information about the benefits IATSE provides. All questions or problems concerning these benefits should be directed to the NBF by calling them at 1-800-456-FUND (3863). Do not contact the Local. The Local is administered by freelancers like you and are unable and unqualified to answer any questions concerning the administration of the NBF.

Presently the NBF uses:

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield to administer our health insurance plan

Mass Mutual to administer our retirement funds

Davis Vision to administer our vision plan

Delta Dental for our dental plan

CVS Caremark for our prescription plan

ULLICO to administer our life insurance policy

It is your responsibility to inform the National Benefit Fund office of any change in your contact information or any change in your family status. If you move, change your marital status, or change your name, you must inform the NBF of the change. Your employer or this union cannot handle this for you.

The benefits that IATSE offers are normal plans and easy to understand, except for the health insurance plan. Since the cost of health insurance today is so high, a contribution on your part may be needed. The way you pay your fee for the health insurance plan is complicated and there are many rules you must adhere to.

The information below is a brief overview of how the health insurance plan works. A much more complete explanation of the provisions can be found at www.iatsenbf.org.

Health Insurance

The account into which funds are paid is called the health and welfare CAPP account. (CAPP is an acronym for "Contributions Against Premium Payments.") After the first $100, which is retained by the NBF for setup administrative costs, these funds are held for your exclusive benefit to pay health insurance premiums and other health care expenses.

There are six choices within our Union health care coverage. IATSE 796 participates with the NBF Plan C. Within Plan C, there is Plan C-1, called the "High Option," and Plan C-2, referred to as the "Low Option." There is also a Plan C-3, referred to as the "Minimum Option." Within each option there is an Individual Plan and a Family Plan. This letter will not address the specific differences in coverage; please refer to the website for that information.

Health insurance premiums are paid one quarter (three months) in advance.

You will qualify for voluntary participation in the plan when there is an accumulation in your CAPP account great enough to pay the premium for one month of health insurance under NBF Plan C-2 Individual.

Automatic Enrollment

Once there is an accumulation in your CAPP account great enough to pay the premium for 1 quarter (three months) of health insurance under NBF Plan C-2 Individual plan you will receive a letter from the NBF. You will be enrolled in the Health Insurance plan automatically if you do not reply to that letter and show that you already have health insurance coverage. Funds will be deducted each quarter from your CAPP account to pay the premium.

Once you are enrolled, if you do not have enough balance in your CAPP account to pay the quarterly premium, you MUST pay the difference. If you do not pay the premium, coverage will lapse due to non-payment, and you will not have access to the health insurance plan until you meet the criteria for re-enrollment for coverage. Re-enrollment is more difficult than initial qualification – please see below.

If You Already Have Health Care Insurance

If you already have health insurance, you must reply to the initial enrollment letter and show that you already have health coverage so that you will not be enrolled in the health insurance plan automatically. Then your CAPP account funds may be used to reimburse you for any legitimate health care insurance premiums you pay. For example, if your spouse has health insurance through another employer, and you are carried on that plan, any premium that you pay for that insurance for yourself, your spouse, or your family can be turned in for reimbursement from your CAPP account. Also, any co-pays for office visits, prescriptions, or almost any bona-fide medical cost you pay that is not covered by your insurance may also be turned in for reimbursement from your CAPP account. Your CAPP account is YOUR MONEY to use for YOUR heath care costs. There are rules to follow and restrictions to observe, as with any plan, so be sure to coordinate with the NBF office.

Staying Qualified

In order to remain qualified to stay enrolled in the plan, one must work for a contracted employer frequently enough for the employer to contribute an amount equal to one quarter's premium under the C-2 Individual Plan over a 24-month period. If you do not work at least this much for a contracted employer, you will become ineligible for the IATSE Health Insurance plan.

Pay Premiums Promptly

One of the National Benefit Fund rules that are quite rigid regards the timely payment of premiums. We have had individuals lose their coverage because their self-pay portion of the premium payment arrived one day late. This is a severe penalty, usually causing a lapse of coverage for which Re-enrollment qualification is required. If you like, the NBF can now accept credit card payment. If you think your payment might be late, this may be another option you may employ to assure continuing coverage. Credit card payments require some setup paperwork, so again, please don't wait until the last day.

Re-Enrolling After Cancellation For Non-Payment Of Premiums

If you work enough to initially qualify, are enrolled, and subsequently do not have enough contributions to meet a quarterly premium payment, and if you fail to self-pay the premium balance due, your coverage will be downgraded or lapse. If NBF Health Insurance coverage lapses, you will not be eligible to re-enroll until the balance in your CAPP account equals the monthly charge for C-3 single coverage plus an administrative fee of $150. This is very likely to happen if you don't respond to mail from the National Benefit Fund. 


Loss Of CAPP Account Funds

Freelancers who do not participate in the IATSE Health Care Plan can see their CAPP account accumulate, sometimes to a very high balance. For CAPP accounts in which there is no activity, EMPLOYER contributions more than 2 years old will be deducted, again, "doing nothing" can cost you money!

Cobra Coverage

If for any reason you can no longer be enrolled in the IATSE Health Plan, you can continue to have insurance coverage under provisions of COBRA. Again, there are many particulars not addressed in this brief letter. The short of it is, you can retain coverage under this plan for at least 18 months after you become disqualified and/or dropped for any reason. The premiums will be significantly higher – more than double – and there are other restrictions, but this could be a useful avenue during a time of qualification for Re-enrollment (above) or for a time of transition to another health insurance plan altogether.

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