Chip Mosher is a long-time teacher and union member in the Las Vegas school system. He’s also a bit chapped that his union, the Clark County Education Association, is conducting a “benefits review” of all members to ensure “dependent eligibility” through the union’s health trust. Mosher used the pages of his regular column in Las Vegas City Life to vent:
For several months, teachers have been being warned to set up personal appointments with representatives from American Fidelity, or face consequences. Teachers have been told to bring their tax returns for strangers to investigate. Some American Fidelity personnel interrogating teachers have been from out of state. On top of that, the school district itself has engaged in this madness by having school secretaries remind teachers to set up their “required” meetings with these thugs in our schools. Obviously, a teacher doesn’t have a prayer when Big Brother is everywhere.
The bottom line to this? Money. It has been pretty evident the motive is profit because teachers who have never declared any dependents on their health insurance have also been directed, in writing, to attend these demoralizing shakedowns. American Fidelity, which has reportedly been granted exclusive access (approved vendor status) to teachers, gets to pitch added insurance coverage to coerced, nervous teachers (which, the union documents say, they are free to turn down). Plus, according to union insiders, the CCEA receives a nice fee from American Fidelity for such special rights.
The sessions with the insurance company representative are supposed to last 15 to 30 minutes, during which time members are to provide birth certificates for dependents, domestic partner registrations, and page 1 of their 2011 federal tax returns. (“Feel free to black out any financial information below the ‘Exemptions’ section that you do not wish to share,” the union helpfully instructed.)
And it appears Mosher is correct – during this examination of your personal documents, the insurance rep will take the opportunity to, well, sell insurance:
In addition, you will be provided information and the opportunity to enroll in Section 125 Flexible Spending Accounts. These pre-tax programs can be used to pay for out-of-pocket medical and/or dependent daycare expenses. New for this year: AFA will be offering a Debit Card to be used for medical expenses through the Unreimbursed Medical Flexible Spending Account. The benefit counselor will explain how these programs can increase your take-home pay through tax-savings.
You will also be provided information on other voluntary insurance programs that may be beneficial for you and your family. This includes a special open enrollment for disability insurance and an offering of portable, permanent life insurance coverage. Please keep in mind there is no obligation to elect additional benefits.
Members who refuse to attend the sales pitch or produce the required documents are threatened – by their own union – with the suspension of their health insurance coverage.
A CCEA officer acknowledged there was some “initial reluctance to participate,” but added teachers “quickly embraced the process.”
Next week: Timeshare presentations!