Trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan have unanimously agreed to a one-calendar-quarter extension of health coverage for certain qualified participants who would otherwise lose coverage on Oct. 1, 2023. The extension accounts for jobs that may have been lost in May and June of this year due to the Writers Guild strike. The WGA has been on strike since May 2, SAG-AFTRA since July 14.
“This will come as a great relief to our members,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “I think it’s important that we never forget that we are in a contract negotiation with the AMPTP and under no circumstances should the health and well-being of members and their families ever be weaponized against them because of this strike. The AMPTP is long overdue to return to the negotiating table with a fresh perspective on their integral relationship with SAG-AFTRA members. The ball is in their court to do the right thing on behalf of performers and accept the inevitable paradigm shift with grace and generosity.”
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SAG-AFTRA’s National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who also serves as a trustee of the Plan, said, “It’s a shame the studios and streamers have put so many SAG-AFTRA members in a position where they have to worry about basic necessities – like whether they will remain covered by their health plan. The Board of Trustees’ approval of this extension to some of those impacted by the AMPTP’s intransigence will help alleviate some of that anxiety. The solution we’re all hoping for, however, is that the AMPTP will return to the bargaining table.”
Qualified participants must be losing earnings-based or days-based coverage on Oct. 1, 2023, and have at least $22,000 in reported earnings, or 85 alternative days, from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. These reduced requirements apply only to continuation of existing active coverage and reflect a reduction that accounts for lesser earnings opportunities during May and June.
Participants who lose active coverage but don’t qualify for the extension will receive a COBRA offer from the Plan. COBRA premium payment assistance and other resources that can help members find affordable coverage may be available through their state or through one of the entertainment industry’s charitable foundations.
The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan is governed independent of the union.
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