MEDFORD — When CSEA State Department of Transportation (Babylon) Local Treasurer Dennis Kearney first noticed an uncomfortable feeling in his chest, he dismissed it as indigestion.
Two days later, Kearney, who is based at DOT’s Medford yard, still felt the discomfort. He went to the hospital, where doctors told him he had suffered a heart attack.
Thanks to his state negotiated benefits, as well as supplemental insurance available only to CSEA members, Kearney was able to focus on his health and his family’s well-being without the added stress of mounting medical costs for his treatment.
Perhaps the most instrumental cost-saving measure for Kearney was all of the CSEA-negotiated health benefits available to New York State Executive Branch employees through the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP).
Months after his recovery, Kearney reviewed his Explanation of Benefits statement and noted that his employer-sponsored health insurance had covered more than $100,000 of his health care needs.
Post medical emergency, to help offset the out-of-pocket copayments of his new lifelong prescription drugs, Kearney is also taking advantage of the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund (EBF)’s prescription drug copay reimbursement program.
All eligible CSEA-represented New York State employees have access to NYSHIP and EBF. Members in more than 600 CSEA local governments units also have EBF benefits.
“I had access to the EBF plans,” said Kearney. “As members, we need to be grateful that we have people out there negotiating for us to have these types of benefits.”
Kearney encourages state employees to use the negotiated Flex Spending Account, which allows employees to put a designated amount of pre-tax money from their paychecks to use for eligible health care, dependent care and/or adoption expenses. The Flex Spending Account is available to all eligible state employees. Workers can typically enroll during the open enrollment period during the fall. You must re-enroll each year.
Member-only benefits help cover gaps
While Kearney’s state-negotiated benefits have helped him greatly, he was also well prepared for the unexpected thanks to CSEA member-only benefits, including two supplemental insurance programs offered through Pearl Insurance.
Kearney counteracted his medical and other expenses through Pearl Insurance’s Critical Illness Plan, available only to CSEA members. Kearney signed up for the plan when he first began his job at DOT. The Critical Illness Plan provides enrollees with a lump benefit that they can spend as they wish if they are diagnosed with a covered critical illness.
Pearl Insurance’s CSEA-sponsored Group Disability Insurance also provided financial coverage when Kearney was unable to work while he was recovering.
“Without the extra coverages that I had access to, I would either be sitting in serious debt or looking for an additional job to pay my medical bills,” said Kearney. “Members owe it to themselves to at least have conversations with their Pearl Insurance representative.”
After hearing about his medical issues, Kearney’s co-workers became more proactive about their own health care. They began asking Kearney about the supplemental insurances available to them through our union.
“It’s super easy for members to sign up for the insurance programs,” said Kearney. “All you have to do is sit down with a representative at an information day or lunch and learn. In the grand scheme of things, it’s pennies on the dollar. It’s important to get your ducks in a line because you never know what will happen in the future.”
— Wendi Bowie