Two-week AHS benefits ‘open period’ in January offers members chance to enroll in plans
United Nurses of Alberta members employed by Alberta Health Services who have chosen in the past not to enroll in their workplace benefits plans will have the opportunity to enroll between Monday, January 5, 2015, and Monday, January 19, 2015.
This “open period” for changing benefits coverage will be the subject of reminders on this website and in other UNA communications.
One of the impacts of the just-completed round of bargaining was the agreement by UNA and AHS to move to a single benefit plan for all members instead of the confusing array of legacy plans left over from the days of nine health regions.
UNA’s goal in bargaining, however, was to ensure that while a single plan was available to all members, superior benefits that had been won in some regions were maintained for all. The employer’s preference would have been to pick a single plan, and move everyone to it.
The trouble with that would have been that what added up to a small difference for most members could have been a very big difference for a few. One example would be employees with family members who had specific health problems that were covered only in the district where the member worked, explained UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan.
“So very minor differences had the potential to be a very big difference to some members, and in the end we were successful at protecting almost all of those benefits for our members while making some significant gains for others,” he said. “We ensured that no one really lost anything.”
Harrigan said the biggest gain was the elimination of the three-month benefits waiting period for new employees that existed in some parts of the province. Now benefits will start immediately upon employment for all UNA members covered by the Provincial Collective Agreement, he said.
Another important gain was the extension of out-of-country coverage to all employees in all AHS Zones, he said.
Harrigan said UNA members will be able to find complete details of their full benefits coverage in the 2014 edition of the UNA Nurses Planner, which will be distributed to members in the fall.
A copy of the list of benefits is available online.
United Nurses of Alberta