Flexible Benefits program allows members to save on health care

An important health care benefit secured by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen during the most recent national contract is in danger of falling by the wayside unless membership participation increases.

The Railroad Employees Flexible Benefits Program allows members to use pre-tax dollars to pay for certain medical expenses or dependent care expenses. The plan would allow members to save anywhere from $120 to $5,000 per year on dependent care expenses, or $120 to $3,600 per year on medical expenses.

However, Side Letter #8 of the National Contract specifies that at least five percent of eligible BLET members must participate in the plan or it will be terminated as of December 31, 2009. The deadline to register for the 2008 benefit year is October 26, 2007. The BLET is encouraging all members to contact United HealthCare for details on participating in the plan.

"There are many positive aspects of the Flexible Benefits Program and it is not something that we want to lose," BLET National President Don M. Hahs said.

Members may choose to participate in one of two programs.

The first program, Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (Health FSA), allows members to use tax-free dollars to pay for health care benefits such as the following: doctor co-pays; drug co-pays; dental co-pays or other dental expenses not covered in our dental plan; vision co-pays or additional eye care not covered under the national plan; and over-the-counter medications (cold medicine, decongestant medicine, aspirin, Tylenol or their generic equivalent, etc). This program offers savings of $120 to $3,600 per year.

The second program, Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), allows members to use pre-tax dollars for certain dependent care expenses, such as out-of-pocket dependent care expenses for childcare or care for physically or mentally handicapped dependants. This program offers savings of $120 to $5,000 per year

"The advantage of these programs is that it allows members to save on their taxes and increase their net-spendable income," President Hahs said. "Please take the time to check with United HealthCare to see how these benefits may pertain to your individual situation so that we are able to have this plan in the future."

Members should have received an enrollment packet from United HealthCare regarding the Flexible Benefits Program. To obtain another copy, or for more information on the program, please contact United HealthCare at (877) 311-7849.



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen