SAG-AFTRA health plan loses asset value

Expenses rise 4.5% while value drops 9.5%

The Screen Actors Guild-Producers Health Plan lost 9.5% of its net asset value last year to $129.5 million while expenses rose 4.5% to $204.6 million.

The plan, which operates independently of the SAG-AFTRA performers union, made the disclosure this week as part of the Take 2 newsletter sent to its 40,000 participants and posted online as part of a bare-bones summary of its annual report.

The SAG plan also saw income decline by 2.1% to $190.9 million, which included an $8.5 million in “unrealized depreciation” of the plan assets, but did not elaborate in the newsletter. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the plan, which has been a hot-button issue among SAG leaders for many years.

The plan was at the center of the debate over the merger between SAG and AFTRA, which members approved in March of this year. Merger backers asserted that the SAG-AFTRA combo would increase bargaining strength and represent a first step toward solving the problem of performers not qualifying for coverage under separate plans.

Opponents asserted that merging them would not benefit participants, and they were unsuccessful in a court challenge to block the vote on grounds that SAG leaders had not conducted a comprehensive analysis.

Three days prior to the merger vote, SAG leaders removed longtime plan trustee Robert Carlson following a court declaration in which he disputed SAG’s contention that a merger would be beneficial.

SAG denied that the removal was motivated by Carlson’s position on merger, attributing it to “unauthorized” public disclosure of plan data.

The new Take 2 report said employer contributions last year had totaled $138.6 million, up 2.7% from 2010. The gain took place with the new SAG/AFTRA master contract including a hike in pension and health contributions from 15% to 16.5% — 9.75% for health and 6.75% for pension — starting on July 1, 2011.

The 2011 plan expenses included $183.2 million in benefits, up 5.3% from 2010, and $21.4 million in administrative expenses, edging down 1.8%.

The latest Take 2 newsletter made no mention of the health plan raising premiums on Jan. 1 for members over 65 and their dependents. The newsletter disclosed that hike in September.

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