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This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Benefits corner

Anonymous wanted to start a thread on benefits:
He/she said:

Got "Open Enrollment" info from LLNS today. Lots if whining about costs (poor Georgie and ULM, they must be crying all the way to the bank) and weak explanations about why coverage will cost more and benefits will be reduced. Real reason? Bechtel needs to save money for "profit" and inflated ULM salaries. And here's the catch: despite lots of info being provided (yes, it's up to you to decipher the plans and see if your current providers will take them), I couldn't find ANYTHING about what the new plans will cost the employee or retiree. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Already received a letter from Health Net saying my coverage is over come Jan.1, and now I have only a couple of weeks to choose a new plan. And I don't know how much it will cost me. Nice. Complete incompetence on the part of LLNS and their over-paid managers.........Anyone know where the cost of the plans is published (tried the LLNL web sites and Hewitt......couldn't find even a mention of this new health plan fiasco; called LLNL/LLNS Benefits office...they didn't know their asses from a hole in the ground either....) Best and the brightest, my a**. The "Best" will easily find employment elsewhere, and the "Brightest" are too smart to come to work here.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand how medical premiums could be so high at LLNL. My better half is insured through an employer with a similar age demographic with far fewer employees, yet premiums are much lower and coverage is better. I think LLNS management has not bothered to negotiate decent benefits because they just don't care to do so.

Anonymous said...

Think that's bad? I retired from LLNL six years ago (still recovering!!!) and today I got a letter from Georgie telling me that medicare-eligible retirees will no longer get health insurance through a LLNS plan.

Instead we will be given $2.4K to buy a medigap plan. Then he has the gall to tell us in the next paragraph that our costs won't be higher than those for this year.

I know it has been over-used, but how do you know when Miller is lying? When he opens his mouth.

I left a good job to come to LLNL thirty years ago. In spite of having had a very successful research career, I wish I had never heard of the place. Anyone who hangs around today is an even bigger fool than I.

Get out while you still can!!!

Anonymous said...

The reason that the Lab dropped HealthNet and Pacificare, and went to Anthem Blue Cross is that the Lab has decided to self-insure it's medical benefits. This is also the primary reason for the significant employee cost increases for these plans.

If you don't believe me, ask at the next brown-bag briefing.

Anonymous said...

Can somebody explain why I am paying $255 for Health Net coverage (family) that will go away next year, while UC retirees pay $172 and can still get it? I'm also willing to bet that we'll pay more for Blue Cross than "official" UC retirees will pay. This doesn't seem fair. You work for UC for 30+ years, pay into the UC retirement system, and later find out that LLNS will handle your retirement benefits based on your entire career at UC (whether of not you ever worked for LLNS at all). Plus, it seems like the retirement medical benefits aren't as good as those under UC. Just doesn't seem fair to me.

Anonymous said...

All of the above comments should be sent to George via the "Ask George" link at my.llnl.

Anonymous said...

LLNS is keeping us in the dark as much as possible on health care options and costs. My wife and I are both Medicare-eligible, so we received the Medicare-eligible packet on October 28. I don’t know what options employees are getting, or the under-65 retirees. I talked to an employee friend, and he said the packet he received did not contain very much information.

Our packet said that all Medicare-eligible retirees are being dumped from the group health insurance plans effective next January 1. LLNS is moving to a defined contribution health plan instead of a defined benefit group plan for us Medicare retirees. What LLNS will provide us is a family Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), into which they will contribute $2400 in 2009 for each Medicare insured person (usually self or self plus spouse). We are responsible for purchasing individual Medicare supplement insurance or a Medicare Advantage plan, and Medicare pharmaceutical insurance, from an administrative management company “Extend Health” which LLNS has an arrangement with. We pay the premiums and get reimbursed from our HRA to the extent that the funds are sufficient. If anything remains, we can use that for other health care expenses (deductibles, copays etc.).

The biggest message in the packet is that Medicare retirees MUST contact Extend Health to select and enroll in a medical plan. If you do not make a plan selection with Extend Health your coverage will terminate effective January 1, 2009. (That is a direct quote from the booklet.) If a retiree is away from home, visiting relatives or on a tour, someone should get the message to them.

There is an exception for retirees in Kaiser. They can stay in the Kaiser group plan until sometime in mid-2009 when Extend Health is anticipated to have made an arrangement with Kaiser to be able to broker individual Medicare plans provided by Kaiser.

Other items from the packet – dental insurance stays under Hewitt. Retirees can participate in the Vision plan – VSP Access Plan. This is a discount program, not an insurance.

The information packet contains no information about the individual Medicare plans or their costs. Having to purchase an individual plan instead of being in a group plan, I strongly doubt that we will come out ahead.

The LLNS booklet says that we will receive a packet from Extend Health during the week of November 3.

The LLNS booklet tells us that Extend Health has a web site. They don’t say what the web site is, but we can look it up.

I found, first, that Extend Health is a recent startup. They raised $15 million in a second round of venture capital funding in August 2007. See
Extend Health raises $15M for defined contribution health plans,
or just go to
and search their site for “Extend Health” .

The Extend Health web site is
Take a look at their Business pages, where they tell their prospective business customers that they can control current health costs and reduce corporate health liabilities and reporting obligations.
Extend Health is a combination of an administrative management company and an insurance agency.
You can look at the individual plans they have on offer. I found a few early facts. Medicare plans cover individuals. You select a plan for you and your spouse separately. The premium depends on where you live and increases with your age. It will take me a long time to go through the plans to find one which is similar to the group coverage I have this year, so I can compare cost.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that LLNS knows how to get kickbacks from the insurers.

I was going to ask at the benefits fair yesterday but the line was so long, I decided against it.

Anonymous said...

Tell me more about medigap. How does it work?

Anonymous said...

George doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

How about the benefits fair! One hour line to talk to one of two (2) Anthem employees. No answer on why if one signed up for the higher priced plans, one still had to pay more for co-pays.

Other observations. Cal Causality had three staff and Kaiser had four staff at the tables. The lab fitness signup table was loaded with candy giveaways. What message are you telling us about fitness and health? The smell of fresh strawberries permeating the room as HR employees ate off a fruit tray for their own use, which was unavailable to us peons in the Anthem line.

Anonymous said...

October 29, 2008 10:22 PM

YES I can. Why is it you people didn't read the blog during the transition and do a little thinking for yourself. When we were UC we had over 200,000 people going to one insurance company and asking, what type of deal can you give me if I have 200K people paying each month into a policy? The more people you have the cheaper it is for each person. Now that we've been boned of out retirement and benefits by DOE / LLNS we have less than 8000 people going to the same company asking for a break. Guess what. You have no clout anymore and they are saying sure, we'll give you this rate since you have nothing o offer us any more. Again you can check the Q&A and find another lie by LLNS that "nothing is going to change". Gee would that make them full of crap one more time but don't worry by the time this is all over you will find that almost every answer they gave to coax you into TCP-1 will be a lie and you're going to get screwed in the end. This is not about YOU any more. It's about THEM. yes there is a THEM and US no matter what GM wants to preach.

Anonymous said...

October 30, 2008 1:49 PM

If you think LLNS is not trying to keep you in the dark just try and get your 1-N ranking in the division and the lab than ask your boss to show you how many spots you moved up in the last three years division or lab. They don't even give this list to your supervisor any more. I think it times to leak the salaries of everyone to the web and post it for all to read. I for one want to see who got what in a 1.5 present year. Anyone in benefits or payroll got balls? Do not send by e-mail. be creative and this security and traceability and maybe you'll come up with a good answer. By hiding this list you employees have no way of know who makes what or gage yourself to see what you deserver and that my friends as far as I'm concerned is an unfair labor practice. No one should be afraid that the public or their co worked see their salary if they know they are worth it. If they are making a wage above you and they aren't doing an equal job then you should know that too. These are the ones this lack of information is protecting and some lawyer should take that to court.

Anonymous said...

October 30, 2008 7:24 PM
"George doesn't care."?

Incest is OK as long as you keep it in the "family"

Anonymous said...

"nothing is going to change".
Just like politicians, they feed you only half truths. All have jobs and everything is same on
Oct. 1, 2007. The other part that they didn't tell you, AFTER Oct. 1, 2007, we can change anything to whatever ... eg. layoff, personnel policy, medical provider, etc. remember "substantial equivalent" was ONLY on Oct. 1, 2007, NOT necessarily afterward.

Anonymous said...

The Labs Strategic Human Capital organization; and benefits and compensation in particular are a disgrace, constantly working against the interest of employees.

They are Quislings.

Surely nobody with an open posting should hire anyone who has spent any time in SHC, compensation or benefits. Treat 'em like the dishonest aliens that they are.

Every dime they save goes into Riley Bechtel's Armani fund.

Anonymous said...

"...If you think LLNS is not trying to keep you in the dark just try and get your 1-N ranking in the division and the lab than ask your boss to show you how many spots you moved up in the last three years division or lab..."

I have it and give a look to each of my charges, we do it the good old transparent University way....

never surrender

Anonymous said...

Hey, 8:46 PM, it looks like you won't be getting an invite anytime soon to the famous Riley Bechtel "Bohemian Grove" summer encampment.

* McCartney, Laton, Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story: The Most Secret Corporation and how It Engineered the World, Ballantine Books, Updated edition,1989. For the remarkable network of links between the Californian-based and privately-owned Bechtel Corporation and members of Reagan's Cabinet, along with their Camp membership in the Grove.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the costs of my non-medicare health care for retirees. The overall costs go up $300, with me absorbing $160 of that increase. So my contribution goes up a whopping 57%. Then I calculated percentages I am paying. Now I am paying 21.6% and next year it will go up to 27.5% of the total costs. What is with this bull of an 85/15 split going to 80/20 over three years? Can someone explain??

Anonymous said...

Gee ... They dropped PacifiCare, and provided BC-EPO in place of it. BC-EPO will provide most of the same doctors/coverage as

MY cost just merely goes up from $177 to $303 ... That's only a small 71% increase. Not working for LLNS, but still screwed by them.

Anonymous said...

Check out UC Retiree health coverage for 2009 at the UC "At Your Service" website. Retiree Non-Medicare BC-PPO (NOT EPO) for Self + Family is about 200 bucks a month. They still have Health Net HMO (Self + Family) for $172 a month. We (LLNL/LLNS, formerly UC employees who SHOULD have ALL retirement benefits through UC), have to pay over 300 dollars a month for coverage that is worse.

There REALLY ought to be an investigation and/or lawsuit.

Does anyone know if the "medical benefits will be provided by the new contractor, even for those who retired previously under UC" BS has been challenged at either LANL or LLNL?

Anonymous said...

George and Russo are dumb and dumber.
Down with LLNS.

Anonymous said...

No 8:39, it's we who are dumb and dumber, or perhaps it's passive and passiver.

When I hired on several decades ago I was told that I was a UC employee, that I would retire with UC benefits, and that the pension/benefits package was as good or better than U.S. Civil Service. This was the company line back then: the pay isn't so hot, but look at the benefits.

Well, I retired as a UC employee a few years ago, but suddenly I no longer get full UC benefits. I'm certain that this hosing on medical benefits for medicare folks is just the start---wait till next year!

Isn't there some sort of implied contract and a possible class action lawsuit out there somewhere? Even a thousand geezers at the gates with picket signs would probably get us on TV and get the attention of congress. It would also let the public know what self-serving dishonest jerks run LLNL. Since they are basically bureaucratic cowards, it might even lead to some corrective action.

But it won't happen. Were we lawyers, doctors, assembly line workers, or even CPA's you can bet your bozingus it would. There is something about research types. Is it nature or nurture? Do we subject ourselves to the master/slave relationship with a thesis advisor because we are passive, or does four years of such a relationship make us that way? I'm including myself in this finger pointing.

Anyhow, for my fellow screwees: HICAP provides excellent free classes on Medicare benefits, and Medigap and Medicare Advantage insurance programs. Check out:

There is a class at John Muir next Wednesday. I'm sure that you will get better advice than today's LLNL snow job meetings.

I've already learned out that Miller's cover letter was a lie---duh---our costs will rise with Medigap or Medicare advantage. In particular, if you need hearing aids get them now!

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

LLNL benefits are now determined by market comparative surveys with a NNSA limit set at 105% of market. As the exemplar companies in the market surveys continue their drive to cut benefits, LLNS will follow suit. The NNSA privatization contract has put LLNL on a path of continuous benefit reductions.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point. People who worked at LLNL as UC employees, and retired in the UC system, should have their medical benefits provided by UC, not LLNS. That's what they were told when they started working at LLNL (UC was sold as THE retirement system). Check out the UC retiree medical benefits. They are far superior and much less expensive than those provided by LLNS for former UC employees (most of whom NEVER worked for LLNS at all.) Here are the questions: why are UC retirees who worked at LLNL being treated as second-class UCRP members, why are they being so mistreated by the LLNS management (who obviously don't care at all about them), who allowed this to happen, and what can be done about it? It's a scandal, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

General Motors just announced they'll no longer do any more 401k matches for their employees. Other companies are getting ready to follow this same path due to the poor economy.

It's only a matter of time before these changes get picked up by the LLNS market surveys and LLNS decides to do likewise.

Anonymous said...


Retirement pension system yes, retiree medical benefits apparently not.

My understanding is that retiree medical has always come out of LLNL's and LANL's operating budgets; it was just administered by UC up until LANS and LLNS took over. This was apparently misunderstood by many who were unaware of that fact until it was brought up by NNSA at meetings held in Los Alamos. If my understanding is incorrect, please correct it.

Anonymous said...

You are a riot! You sit there and complain like you never saw it coming!? US and THEM, and poor me......Hah! What did you expect? The old lazy days of doing nothing and getting paid?

Anonymous said...

If you read the fine print, medical benefits are not guaranteed by UC. They can take them away any time they want. Enjoy them while you have them....and stay healthy!!!

Anonymous said...

Lowering the medical benefits of UC retirees might violate the terms of the contract. The benefits might be saved only if NNSA chooses to object.

The contract between NNSA and LLNS (Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344) states that employees who retired from LLNL before the start of the LLNS contract and who did not accept employment with LLNS should get medical benefits that are “ substantially equivalent to those provided by” UC. The “market based” medical plan mentioned in the contract applies to UC retirees who work for LLNS.

The relevant paragraph is in section H-35 of the contract:

“ (i) Post Retirement Benefits
(1) The Contractor shall become the sponsor and be responsible for management and administration of a retiree medical benefit plan that will provide medical insurance benefits (including dental) substantially equivalent to those provided by the predecessor contractor to individuals who meet eligibility requirements under the plan and who retired from employment at LLNL with the predecessor contractor as of the first day of the Basic Term of the Contract. The Contracting Officer will determine substantial equivalency by comparing the Contractor’s retiree medical benefit plan with the benefits provided by the predecessor contractor.”

Another relevant quote from section H-35 is:
“(a) Personnel Appendix
(1) This Clause and the Contract Section J Appendix entitled “Personnel
Appendix” are adopted for the exclusive benefit and convenience of the
Parties hereto; nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring
any right of action or any other right or benefit upon past, present, or
future employees of the Contractor, or upon any other third party. This
Clause and the Personnel Appendix reflect NNSA’s minimum Contractor
human resources requirements.”


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