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Boeing to raise employee's share of health care costs for nonunion workers

Nonunion Boeing workers will pay a greater share of their share of health insurance costs next year because of increased competition and the new Health Care Reform law, Boeing president of commercial airplanes Jim Albaugh told employees in a memo today.

Information about the changes will be available in October. Since union-represented employees are governed by bargaining agreements, health care costs will be discussed as the contracts are negotiated, Albaugh said.

Today, Boeing picks up about 89 percent of total health care costs for employees, above companies such as Lockheed Martin, General Electric and 3M, which pay about 70 percent, the memo said.

“The company will continue to offer excellent health-care benefits and to bear most of the financial burden,” Albaugh said in the memo.

Boeing  expects to spend more than $2.4 billion on health care this year, he said. That adds $2 million to the cost of every airplane Boeing builds. By 2015, costs could reach $3.1 billion, he said.

The competition for commercial airplanes has changed, he said. Besides Airbus, Boeing will face competition from Bombardier and eventually with Brazil, Japan, Russia and China.

In addition, health care reform passed this year could add to the company’s costs over the next several years. In 2018, Boeing could be subjected to a substantial tax on health care plans exceeding a certain threshold, Albaugh said in the memo.