The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has cut 50% from the cost of premiums for the second quarter in response to the coronavirus crisis.
SAG-AFTRA members were notified of the reduction on Wednesday via a message from SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White. They said the cuts would cover participants who had been covered as of March 1.
“The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has announced it is temporarily reducing premiums by 50% during the second quarter (April, May and June), for all eligible Plan I, Plan II and COBRA participants covered by the Plan as of March 1, 2020. This change is effective on April 1, 2020,” Carteris and White said.
Tens of thousands of performers union members are covered by the plan, with eligibility based on meeting earnings thresholds from the four most recent quarters. The plan said that participants, except those receiving “senior performers” coverage, will save between $450 and $855 over the three months, depending on the type of coverage, and those on COBRA will save between $460 and $1,168 a month.
Carteris and White also recapped already announced moves by SAG-AFTRA to deal with the pandemic, including dues reduction, support of the federal stimulus legislation, and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund’s creation of the COVID-19 Relief Fund for SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by this pandemic.
“We want to start by saying we hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this incredibly challenging time. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives and effectively shut down work for so many of us,” White and Carteris said. “Please know that through all of this, the union’s core functions, including residuals processing and contract enforcement, continue. In March alone we processed 312,000 residuals checks totaling $73 million.”
Dues relief was announced on March 30, a month ahead of the date for payment.
“The May dues bills will be mailed as usual, and those who are able to pay on time are encouraged to do so,” Carteris and White said. “However, late fees will be waived for this dues period, and there will be no adverse impact on members’ work eligibility throughout the May 2020 semi-annual dues period, regardless of paid-up status. Members who request a due-date extension because of financial hardship will be able to pay their May dues in two equal installments due July 1 and Oct. 1.”
“There is no action needed at this time and you can decide to delay your dues payment or not once you receive your May bill in the coming weeks. The funding from dues keeps our union operating, allowing SAG-AFTRA to continue working on your behalf, processing residuals payments, negotiating contracts, monitoring the safety of our broadcasters, and lobbying elected leaders to ensure relief bills include crucial help for our members.”
Carteris and White also said that in the coming weeks, there may be further action from Congress, if necessary, to provide additional relief during this crisis.
“Your safety and security remain our highest priorities,” they said. “To that end, please be aware of scams and those who are looking to take advantage of others during this crisis. Together with your elected leadership, we will continue working tirelessly on your behalf.”