In its March 4 issue, Time magazine published an extensive report on “Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.” The article is sparking conversation across the country. Looking at the national dilemma of rising health-care costs, reporter Steven Brill followed the money to find out why health care is so expensive. One of the main problems? Billing mistakes.

Even people with health insurance can suffer financially from billing mistakes. The good news is that you can avoid these problems, and save money, by being an informed medical consumer.

There are things you can do even before you receive a medical bill to keep costs down for yourself, your employer, and the trust:

  • Always be sure to request doctors who participate in your insurance plan.
  • If possible, ask questions about the tests that are being performed on you. Sometimes there are less expensive options that are just as good.

Once you receive a bill, examine it carefully. Hospital bills can be hard to understand. Time provided some tips:

  • Ask for an itemized bill so you can see every charge.
  • If you are admitted after midnight, be sure your charges start on the actual date you are admitted.
  • Ask for the level of the room, hospital, and services you are receiving. Many hospitals charge by level (for example, Level 1 for something minor and Level 5 for a major emergency). Make sure you are charged at the right level for each item on your bill.

By looking closely at your bills, you might identify mistakes that could save a lot of money. Scrutinizing hospital bills can be intimidating. The trust is available to provide assistance.

Nationwide, employees are paying a greater share of health-care costs than ever before. By doing your part to avoid unnecessary or incorrect charges, you can help save money for yourself and the trust, keeping your health benefits affordable and in place.

Local 399 wishes President Anthony Cousimano a full and speedy recovery as he is currently out on medical leave recuperating from a back injury.

Business Agent Steve Dayan reports the following signed productions for the months of February and March 2013 include: “Untitled Bounty Hunter Project,” “Snoot FX, LLC,” “Prisoners,” “Angriest Man In Brooklyn,” “Betas,” “Silicon Valley,” “The Good Lie,” “Whiskey Bay Re-Shoots,” “ Max Rose” “The Untitled Parham/St. Clair Project,” “Enemy Way,” “Max Rose,” “The Good Lie,” “Larry Gaye,” “Betas” “ Cloud 9,” “We Have Your Husband,” “Snoot FX, LLC,” “Untitled Bounty Hunter Project,” “ Scott Pictures, LLC,” “A Short History of Decay,” “The Curse of Downers Grove,” “Untitled Science Documentary Project,” “Untitled Chris Rock Movie,” “Adam Devine,” “Spy,” “Middle Age Rage,” “Bad Management,” “Girl Meets World,” “Million Dollar Man,” “Christmas Bounty,” “Vampire Academy,” “Reckless,” “Vacation,” “Hidden In The Woods,” “The Homesman,” “The Remaining,” “Carpenters Miracle,” MTV Promos,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Untitled Michael Lannan Project,” “Off Season,” “Ghosts of The Pacific,” “Banshee,” “Sister,” “Incursion,” “Tick Tock Too,” “Do It Yourself,” “Window Wonderland,” “Drunk History,” “Black Card,” “Dear Dumb Diary,” and “When The Game Stands Tall.”

Business Agent Shanda Laurent reports the following grievances have been filed: Sony Studios for an auto service person performing the duties of a mechanic on a regular basis, and a mechanic who is driving regularly; The production “Reach Me” has not paid the drivers their wages; Sony production “Rules of Engagement,” had no Transportation Captain/Gang Boss; Chrysler Commercial had PA’s doing shuttling; “Parks and Recreation” had barnyard animals with no Wranglers and no Wrangler Gang Boss; and “Little rascals” had animals with no Wranglers and no Wrangler Gang Boss.

Settled grievances include: “Taken 2” in the amount of $10,000.00 for meal money and craft service vehicle violations; “Men In Black 3” in the amount of $85,000.00 to four members for forced calls, no idol day pay, and meal money violations; “Django Unchained” in the amount of $10, 000.00 for non rostered – non 399 driver violations; and Sony Pictures in the amount of $250.00 for a mechanic doing drivers work.

Business Agent Leo Reed Jr. reports the following pending grievances: CBS “Company Town” for a grip trailer common carries to distant location; FRB Prodcutions, Inc. “Awkward” for the camera department hauling camera gear in a personal vehicle; Frontera Productions, LLC “Frontera” for drivers not being paid for all benefit hours; Universal “Best Friends Forever” for drivers not paid per diem and 6th day violations; and Universal “This is 40” for meal penalty violations for the insert car driver.

Settled grievances include a driver who got back over 200 days towards becoming a group one after CSATF suspended him from the roster following an injury at work.

Business Agent George Nadian reports the following settled grievances: “Walk of Shame” in the amount of $618.26 for a non rostered-non 399 driver on a Techno Crane trailer; “Django Unchained” in the amount of $10,000.00 for common carrier violations; “Idiom” for wages and benefits in the amount of $11,248.45 for under paying a Los Angeles Captain; and “Biggest Loser” a driver was bumped up to Captains rate.

Business Agent Tom Marchetti reports that ten new companies have signed the recently negotiated 3 year Music Video agreement which includes both wage and benefit increases.

The AICP/Teamster commercial agreement will be up for negotiations later this year. Our goal will be to increase the number of 399 members working on each production as well as increases to wages and benefit contributions.

Congratulations to Shop Steward Enrique Erique for being selected Universal City Walk employee of the year!

Heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the following retirees who recently passed away: Dewey Reed; Patrick Mike Doyle; Billy Colbert; Ben Giller; Gary Crawford; Ed Del Boccio; Jim Harris; Dennis M. Clark; and Jesse Jimenez.

Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of member Ray Holmgren Jr. who recently lost his father Ray Holmgren Sr. and to member Shannon Westreicher whose father Leon recently passed away.