×

SAG Health Plan Changes Prompt Protest From Patricia Richardson, Frances Fisher

Two high-profile members of the SAG-AFTRA national board have gone public with their dissatisfaction over an upcoming change in the SAG health plan.

Frances Fisher and Patricia Richardson are objecting to the Trustees’ recent decision over the plan — which is overseen by reps of the performers union and management — to eliminate the self-pay option for health insurance premiums for members who have taken early retirement. That decision will go into effect at the end of the year.

The plan, which covers about 40,000 members and dependents, disclosed the decision in its Take 2 fall newsletter, saying that the self-pay option was no longer necessary because of the availability of “high-quality, affordable coverage” through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

“Protection is in place for those with pre-existing conditions and this extended coverage safety net is no longer necessary,” the newsletter said.

Currently, self-pay coverage ranges from $492 to $584 monthly for an individual and $1,348 to $1,596 monthly for an individual plus two dependents.

Fisher, who received the fifth-highest vote total in August among Los Angeles candidates for the national board, has launched a campaign asking members to protest the changes by contacting executive director Michael Estrada and the Board of Trustees with the following message:

“Please grandfather in those members who were already on early retirement and self- paying for insurance. These members made decisions about when to start taking their benefits based on certain assurances. To suddenly reverse those assurances and leave these members without the ability to get health care is unconscionable.”

Richardson, who received 46% of the vote for the presidency against incumbent Ken Howard, said, “We need people who are being affected by these changes to write how these changes are affecting you personally ASAP to the Board of Trustees.” 

A spokeswoman for the plan had no comment when contacted by Variety.

Fisher, who is a longtime member of the Membership First faction, said that she and her allies have been getting calls from people who have suddenly lost their coverage.

“These SAG performers opted for early retirement and accepted less money from their well-earned pension plan partly because they were assured they would be able to self-pay for health insurance between the ages of 55-65,” she said. “In what world did the Trustees responsible for this sudden decision regarding the SAG P&H plan think the ACA (Affordable Care Act) was going to cover the people they are abruptly taking this insurance away from? And with, what amounts to, no warning?”

Fisher asserted that the high cost of living in California or New York and limits on subsidies are impairing the ability of members to find new insurance.

The issue of health coverage has been a hot-button issue for many years at the union. The SAG and AFTRA health plans remain separate more than three and a half years after members of SAG and AFTRA overwhelmingly voted to merge the unions.

Merger supporters asserted in the run-up to the 2012 vote that the merging would enable the two health plans to become one, making coverage more available and affordable to members. SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White said in a June email to national board members that “significant progress” had been made toward that goal.

Currently, members’ earnings are designated for either the SAG plan or the AFTRA plan — depending on which union had jurisdiction over the TV program prior to the merger — in order to determine whether the members meet the minimum earnings thresholds necessary to qualify for coverage.

More Film

  • it chapter two, comic con

    Comic-Con: 4500 Gallons of Fake Blood and Everything Else to Know About 'It Chapter Two''

    Comic-Con 2019 kicked off with a stacked presentation from the director and cast of “It Chapter Two” on Wednesday, inspiring a curious amount of joy at San Diego’s Spreckles Theater in spite of the abject terror offered up by the film. The closing chapter to 2017’s record-obliterating “It,” the highest grossing R-rated horror film of [...]

  • 'Between Me and My Mind' Review:

    Film Review: Trey Anastasio in 'Between Me and My Mind'

    Trey Anastasio doesn’t look like a rock star. With his thick rimless glasses and flop of sandy red hair, you might say he resembles John Sebastian, but really, he looks like a mashup of Mike White and Jon Cryer and the filmmaker Chris Smith. He’s an appealingly ordinary shaggy-geek dude, like some guy you might [...]

  • Photo taken July 18, 2019, from

    More Than 20 Feared Dead in Arson Attack on Japan's Kyoto Animation

    UPDATED: More than 20 people are feared to have died Thursday morning in an arson attack on the Kyoto Animation company in Japan, shocking a nation in which extreme violence is very rare. Emergency services in Kyoto City received a call about 10:35 a.m. local time reporting an explosion on the first floor of the [...]

  • sith trooper

    Sith Trooper Revealed From 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

    “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” revealed a new storm trooper uniform Wednesday at San Diego Comic Con as part of a special exhibit celebrating the evolution of the storm trooper design. Dubbed the Sith trooper, the new uniform sports all-red armor plates with a matching red and black blaster. Also decorating the armor is [...]

  • Dunkirk

    Harry Styles Is the Perfect Prince Eric; Why He'd Rock 'Little Mermaid' Role

    Could Harry Styles be the perfect Prince Eric? One day after the announcement that the One Direction star is “in early negotiations to play the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ role,” the internet exploded with speculation as to how he would portray the object of Ariel’s affections. “I can see lots of reasons why Harry is perfect,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content