Culinary Union Members Rush to Beat Insurance Deadline

LAS VEGAS -- Culinary union members are dealing with long lines as they re-enroll for health insurance. Around 55,000 members must show up in person at the union hall and the clock is ticking.

The Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, is the largest and most powerful union in southern Nevada. Union leaders say they are taking measures this year to better control fraud and abuse of their insurance plan. The long line wrapped around the perimeter of the union hall building.

"We've been in line for two hours," said Harrah's employee and union member Karen Martinez.

This effort is to make sure the culinary health fund is covering the right people. By having everyone re-enroll, the union says, it eliminates fraud.

"For us, it's to be sure the people we represent -- the culinary workers, and they have the right to have the health benefits -- they are the right people," said Geoconda Arguello Kline, secretary-treasurer, Culinary Union Local 226.

All dependents in the culinary health fund -- wives, husbands, children -- will lose coverage Dec. 31, 2013 unless members show up at the union hall to re-enroll their dependents. Before it's all over, 55,000 people could be standing in line.

"If they don't come, it's going to be a problem because they're not going to have health insurance," Arguello Kline said.

"I'm just happy to get this done," union member David Gross said.

He didn't mind standing in line because he doesn't want anyone taking advantage of the system.

"Anytime you have fraudulent activity that's taxing our system, it's not good. It means our benefits. I'm glad to see they're doing the right thing," he said.

Union leaders expect it to be busy right up until the last day for enrollment on Dec. 21.

"We're trying to make it the best we can, so people can move fast," Arguello Kline said.

If you're a member of the union and you're single, you must still re-enroll in person. Dependents over 19 must come with you as well. Enrollment is taking place Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Union members need to bring the following items:

  • Original/certified copies of marriage certificate
  • Birth certificate(s)
  • Drivers license of State ID
  • Social Security number
  • Adult dependent must come with you

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