APWU: PSEs to Be Eligible for Health Insurance Soon

APWU Web News Article 68-2012, June 1, 2012

As the first group of Postal Support Employees (PSEs) hired by the USPS approaches their one-year anniversary, employees are eager to sign-up for health insurance and have a lot of questions about how and when to do that, reports Organization Director Martha Shunn-King. In accordance with the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, PSEs become eligible to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) after one year of service.

PSEs may sign-up for federal employees’ health benefits after they complete one full year (365 calendar days) of continuous employment with no breaks in service of more than five days. To be eligible, they must maintain sufficient earnings each pay period so that premiums can be withheld from their pay after mandatory deductions for Social Security, Medicare and federal tax are made.

In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the USPS will contribute 75 percent of the premium costs if PSEs choose to enroll in the APWU Consumer Driven Health Plan. Employees will pay the remaining 25 percent. They are also eligible to enroll in other Federal Employee Health Benefit plans, but will be required to pay 100 percent of the premium costs for other plans.

How and When to Enroll

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will send PSEs a 2012 Guide to Benefits For Certain Temporary (non-Career) USPS Employees, which is similar to the booklets career employees receive during open season. To enroll, employees must complete the PostalEASE FEHB Worksheet and send it to Shared Services, at PO BOX 970400, Greensboro NC 27497-0400. Once they are enrolled, employees will be able to use PostalEASE to make changes.

Coverage will be effective the first day of the first pay period after the Postal Service receives an enrollment form, if employees have been assigned for another 360 days.

PSEs must enroll within 60 days of eligibility or they will have to wait for the next Health Plan Open Season to sign-up.

Managers cannot give employees a six-day break to prevent them from achieving eligibility for insurance. They can assign five-day breaks before workers complete 360 days, but such employees will be eligible, provided they reach 360 days after the break.

For additional information, employees can call Shared Services at 1-877-477-3273, and select Option 5, Shunn-King said. “You also can call me or e-mail me,” she said, at mshunn-king@apwu.org or 202-842-4227.

Insurance Orientations

In accordance with Article 17.6 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, APWU officers must be given ample opportunity to address non-career employees once they become eligible for health insurance. Working with the APWU Health Plan, the Organization Department is producing a PowerPoint slide show presentation for use at the orientations, Shunn-King said.

APWU representatives have met with the Postal Service officials to discuss the logistics of PSE healthcare enrollment, and have scheduled a follow-up meeting next month to firm up the details, she added. “We will keep you posted of any new developments.”