Providence St. Peter, our community hospital, is a great place to receive care, but the Providence corporation that owns it is making the wrong choices. Providence cut employee healthcare, harming caregivers, patients, and our local economy. And now the national labor board said that Providence’s cuts were illegal.
Earlier this year, Providence implemented a new healthcare system for its employees that eliminated the comprehensive PPO insurance and replaced it with a risky, expensive high-deductible plan. Studies show these high-deductible plans may save employers a little money in the short term, but they result in worse health and higher costs in the long term because employees put off needed care. 
|Plan||2013||Deductibles (individual / family)||Out of pocket maximums (individual / family)|
|HSA||Becomes the base plan||$1,500/$3,000||$3,000/$6,000|
The increased family deductible alone represents about 10 percent of our average income—a huge burden for a working family. Even if an employee qualifies for Providence’s “wellness” contribution—and only about half did last year—the deductible increase is still a big bite out of a family budget.
Providence’s new plans provide just the legal minimum free preventative care and wellness tools required by federal law.
Providence: healthcare Goliath benefiting its out-of-town CEO, not our community.
Providence is a gigantic company with more than $8.7 billion in revenue in the last year, and it made more than $239 million in profit thanks to the hard work of its dedicated employees. It does not need to slash healthcare. In fact, it rewards its out-of-town executives very healthily with multi-million-dollar salaries at the same time it’s taking away South Sound families’ access to affordable care.
Providence also benefits from special tax-exempt charity status, which means we as taxpayers foot the bill for the public services that its business relies on, like the roads that carry patients to the hospital and the police and firefighters who protect the hospital. Providence corporation was granted this special status in recognition of the positive contributions it’s expected to make in our community. We didn’t expect Providence to break the law or cut healthcare.
Providence can afford to provide quality, affordable healthcare.
Providence claims that the way the healthcare changes work out, not all employees will pay more for their healthcare. Is that true?
A nationally-recognized actuarial firm found Providence’s new healthcare scheme will cost SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members at St. Peter Hospital $332,000 collectively, a 47% increase in our out-of-pocket healthcare costs. It would take some fancy math or finding a true outlier to argue these plans would save anyone money.
|“I have MS and have a lot of doctor visits and MRIs each year. Under Providence’s new plan, I will be asking for fewer doctor visits and tests for my MS. There’s not much more I can do. I won’t be able to go to the doctor when I’m ill – the budget is already very tight.”
Rosemarie Harris, Health Unit Coordinator, Providence St. Peter Hospital
What about the other healthcare options that Providence offers?
More than 70% of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members at St. Peter Hospital were enrolled in comprehensive healthcare plans that Providence eliminated, effective January 1, 2013. Providence has replaced these plans with higher deductibles that many employees find unaffordable. The HRA and HMO options both have higher deductibles than were offered last year.
|“My 9-year-old daughter had heart palpitations last year and we had to take her to Children’s to find the cause. With Providence’s new plans, if she has further heart issues I will not be able to afford her care.”
Alisa McDuff, Dietary, Providence St. Peter Hospital
Don’t Providence’s union employees get to bargain over benefits like this?
The SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members working at Providence facilities have repeatedly made counterproposals at the bargaining table to try to secure affordable comprehensive care for our families but Providence has implemented its new plans before we completed bargaining.
|“Taking away our healthcare plans and replacing them with catastrophic plans is truly a terrible approach to dealing with healthcare costs. It just shifts the costs of healthcare from Providence who is wealthy and profitable, to those of us who can least afford it. It is just unconscionable that a healthcare institution is not only doing this to healthcare workers, but is setting an example and leading in our community on putting our health at risk.”
Cathy Cook, RN, Providence Sound Home Care and Hospice
Are there other options to save on healthcare costs without denying care?
Yes! Although Providence is profitable and need not slash care spending to remain viable, we have been willing to sit at the table and work with Providence to develop a healthcare benefit model that reduces the cost of employee care while still protecting our health. Other healthcare employers have worked with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members to develop value-based healthcare plans that by incentivizing wellness have kept costs down AND improved employee health. We’d like to do that at Providence, too.
|“My son has asthma, so when he gets sick he can’t kick it like other kids. He’s already been to the doctor four times this month. Last year my husband was in the ICU for four days. Providence isn’t honest about the healthcare, so I can’t even imagine how much this is going to cost. We have to be on husband’s insurance even though he works in a lumber mill and I work in a hospital. It doesn’t cover much and that doesn’t seem right.”
Autumn Watt, Admitting Representative, Providence St. Peter Hospital
 Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Enrollees in Consumer Directed Health Plans. 2006.
 FY 2011 Audited Financial Statements, Providence Health and Services.
 Form 990, 2011, Providence Health and Services.
jrojas January 16th, 2013
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