The Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) bargaining team has been in negotiations since May 2021 to update the health care plan, which serves most federal public service workers and retirees. The plan itself has not been substantially updated since 2006, and the team is calling for a comprehensive, modern plan that responds to members’ needs, including updates to vision care, paramedical maximums, and many other areas that impact our members’ health and well-being.
The team met with the employer to discuss proposals on March 22, and has made significant progress in negotiating long-awaited updates to the plan. However, several contentious issues remain.
Of most concern, the employer wants to introduce a system where high-cost drugs must be authorized before they can be claimed. This would prevent members from being prescribed some medication until less expensive alternatives were pursued. The team is open to discussing this type of system, but only with proper protections for members in place. Such a system would need a grandfather clause to continue to provide those medications to members who were approved before the changes, guide members to alternative options, and quickly provide them with what they need. Leaving the decision in the hands of insurance companies, as the employer has proposed, could result in members not getting the medication they need when they need it most.
The government has also proposed concerning concessions that would impact workers’ drug coverage under the plan. Right now, members pay 20 per cent of drug costs until they’ve paid $3,000 out of pocket, and then they receive full coverage for all future medications. The employer has now proposed to increase members' initial out-of-pocket expenses to $5000 before they are eligible for full coverage. They have also proposed the introduction of coverage limits on diabetic testing supplies (there are currently no limits) and a limit to pharmacy dispensing fee coverage.
The team is proposing solutions that have worked well for other health care plans. PSAC will not agree to a system that leaves our most vulnerable members out to dry.
If talks continue to stall, the team will file to appoint a mediator who will work with all parties involved to help finalize the updates to the plan.
Check out the full list of proposals to improve the health care plan.
Please keep your contact information up to date to receive more updates as our negotiations move forward.