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New Health Care Benefit
BLE members will finally receive eye care coverage on Jan. 1, 1999, when the Railroad Employees National Vision Plan becomes effective.
The Plan will be administered by Vision Service Plan (VSP). Eye exams will be available once every 12 months. Corrective spectacle lenses and frames will be available once every 24 months. Contact lenses are available in lieu of glasses.
All VSP providers are private practicing doctors (mainly optometrists but also ophthalmologists, no retail chain stores) who provide exams and glasses.
When services are received through a VSP member doctor, a patient will receive an eye examination and, in some cases, necessary spectacle lenses at no out-of-pocket expense.
However, if cosmetic or elective lens characteristics (such as tints, coatings, and no-line bifocals) are obtained, the patient will be required to pay extra for these items.
Frames having a retail cost of $75 or less are covered in full. If frames are selected that cost more than $75, the patient pays the difference in cost.
If contact lenses are chosen instead of glasses, an allowance of $105 will be applied toward the doctor's usual cost for contact lens service (further evaluation, fitting, materials, follow-up care, etc...).
Services can be received through a non-VSP provider, but the plan will only pay up to a set schedule of allowances. This dual choice feature allows for somewhat greater freedom of choice in selecting a provider.
Information about the benefits is available in the Railroad Employees National Vision Plan Summary Plan Description, which was mailed to BLE members this month.
Furloughed and retired railroad employees are encouraged to take advantage of United Health Care's open enrollment period during the month of December.
The open enrollment period is for Group Policy GA-23111 and is for one month only. Coverage will become effective Jan. 1, 1999 for those who sign-up in December.
Open enrollment is held every other year, and the next open period will be December of 2000. During open enrollment periods, individuals do not need to show proof of insurability and there are no preexisting condition limitations.
The following individuals may enroll in December:
There are three GA-23111 plans available:
Complete details of the GA-23111 eligibility and benefit provisions can be found in the booklet titled Group Health Insurance Plans for Furloughed and Retired Railroad Employees and their Dependents.
BLE members may obtain this booklet and an enrollment form by contacting either the BLE's International Headquarters or United Health Care. Members can call the BLE's Linda Thomson at (216) 241-2630, extension 217, or United Health Care toll-free at (800) 842-5252.
Newly appointed Region Mobilization Coordinators (RMCs) received two days of intense training from the BLE Education & Training Department in September.
The RMCs represent the major Canadian rail networks (Canadian National, VIA Rail, and Canadian Pacific) and have recently been appointed to their positions by BLE Canadian Director Gilles Hallé.
The purpose of the training session was to get the RMCs up to speed on their duties within the BLE's mobilization network.
"The participation level was excellent and I feel the Canadians are off and running now," said Larry James, Coordinator of the BLE Education & Training Department. "The group was very focused and the results are going to be very positive.
"The RMCs are going to be busy setting up the mobilization network in Canada."
The country was broken down into three different geographic regions (east, west and central) and an RMC was assigned to each area. A fourth RMC was assigned to the Rail Traffic Controllers. Bruce Willows is the Western RMC; Benoit Brunet is the Eastern RMC; and the Central RMC is Randy Stinchcombe. The Rail Traffic Controller RMC is Gerry Gregoire.
Further Canadian RMC training will be held as necessary, James said.
Clockwise, from bottom left: BLE Canadian Director Gilles Hallé; Central RMC Randy Stinchcombe; Coordinator of the Education & Training Department Larry James; Eastern RMC Benoit Brunet; Rail Traffic Controller RMC Gerry Gregoire; and Western RMC Bruce Willows.
Seated, from left: Eastern RMC Benoit Brunet; Central RMC Randy Stinchcombe; Western RMC Bruce Willows; and Rail Traffic Controller RMC Gerry Gregoire.
Standing, from left: BLE Canadian Special Rep Bob Toole; and Coordinator of the Education & Training Department Larry James.
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