Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Health Insurance and Pension Explained

I never got around to putting up this small cluster of factoids: At the July membership meeting, a panel of pension and health plan staffers provided info on the Motion Picture Pension and Health Plan's bennies. The high points:

The Plan (known to aficionados as MPIPHP) offers two different pensions. The so-called "defined-benefit" pension pays retirees monthly checks based on a defined formula of "qualified years and contribution hours. The Individual Account Plan (IAP) pays off a lump sum at the point of retirement"...

Since 1990, the pension, IAP and health insurance have been totally funded by employers. The health insurance and pension contributions are based on an hourly formula. (Work the year, and the monthly payout goes up $70-$80+ per annum. This is a ballpark figure. Mileage varies with the size of contributions.)

In addition to the hourly contribution, the IAP is funded by a percentage (currently 5.5%) of minimum salary, paid by the studio into the Plan.

Companies make one hour of contributions for every hour worked. To initially qualify for health benefits, participants must work at least six hundred hours in one or two consecutive six-month periods, after which they must work three hundred hours in each successive six months to continue benefits. After an employee is laid off, health benefits continue from six to fifteen months. Individuals can also qualify to use a "bank of hours" to continue coverage.

Participants who work at least four hundred hours in a year earn a "qualified year" towards pension:

  • If you have one qualified year, you are "vested" for your IAP; that is, you qualify to collect the IAP at your point of retirement;

  • Five qualified years makes you vested for the defined benefit pension plan;

  • If you are disabled, after ten qualified years and 10,000 hours you may be eligible to collect a disability pension;

  • Fifteen qualified years makes you eligible for retirement health benefits;

  • Twenty qualified years makes you eligible for early retirement at age fifty-five with a reduced benefit; and

  • Thirty qualified years makes you eligible for "special reduced early retirement" at age 55 at a higher rate (but still less than retiring at age 65).

Participants who file for a pension may work only 39.9 hours per month in the industry — that is, at either union or non-union jobs. Although the health and pension plans track hours, pensioners should keep careful records such as past paystubs.

PacifiCare (a mental health HMO) has merged with United Health and the increased access to in-network mental-health care; the MPIPHP has also recently instituted partial coverage for out-of-network mental-health care. Infertility treatments are not covered under Blue Shield but are covered under some of the HMO options.

No one panel could cover the length and breadth of issues involving benefits, but this panel really gave it a shot. We capsulize the presentation here because we really dig repetition.


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Correct me if I am wrong but to qualify for retirement benefits at fifteen years, isn't there an age requirement as well. I think 43 or 44 isn't it?

Steve Hulett said...

Correct. For purposes of brevity, I didn't go into all the gory details, but the fifteen year rule is:

Fifteen years and twenty thousand hours, provided three of those years is after the age of 40.

Anonymous said...

Are we able to borrow from our Iap before turning retirement age?

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