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September 14, 2005


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Looks like Starbucks is advertising its Good Samaritan statues even as it begins to look at cutting healthcare coverage.

That is usually what Unsustainable implies.

Oh lord. Damned no matter what they do. Why don't you swirl the tea leaves a few more times? Maybe you can come up with some other prognostication that won't happen.

Bashers are so typical.

Sometimes, I impress myself

God is raising the price of health insurance specifically so evil Starbucks won't be able to afford it any more and when Starbucks stops covering it, then all the naysayers will say "I told you so" and people will stop going to Starbucks and the giant evil empire will come to its knees and the "little guy" everywhere will rejoice that finally the playing field has been leveled because everybody knows that big corporations are inherently bad and it's okay to support a small one but once it becomes too big, then it must be stopped because it is the work of Satan.


Starbucks has never EVER cut a sinlge benefit to ANY employees...ever. There has never been an anouncement or even a hint of an announcement that this trend would ever change.

Unless Satan tells them to...


Ok, can I just ask: what IS it about Sbux that makes everyone so upset?
Mr. Schultz merely expressed concern that it is becoming difficult to provide health benefits and still turn a profit to the satisfaction of stockholders. HELLO?!? What is wrong with that? Does the word Enron ring a bell?
Sbux is a damn good place to work, and, trust me, there are few major retail corporations that have as honest and employee-friendly a way of doing business as they do. My health coverage is very good, and cheap. I feel good knowing that the head of the company I work for actually cares that I have coverage, and worries that I will continue to do so.


Sorry, -M, but Starbucks has indeed cut benefits. I believe it was last fiscal year that co-pay rose and they stopped paying for brand-name drugs when generics are available. There were a few other cuts that didn't apply to me, and I feel disinclined to look up what they were. And the company literature has indeed said there may be changes -- unspecified but not for the better -- in insurance coverage.

I've had the same insurance through Starbucks for 3 years and may co-pay is still the same as it ever way. If I get a prescription and there is a generic version available, I am asked by the pharmacist if I would like the generic version instead...I say no and she gives me my drugs.
There is no company literature that says there will be any changes "unspecified but not for the better." I don't know where you get your info, but it is just wrong. Lets try a little fact checking next time shall we?


Fact-checking? Sure. I get my info from the Sbux document entitled "benefits 2004 plan changes." It notes that as of Jan 1, 2004, the dental deductable increases to $50 (from $25). Outpatient mental health copay increases to $25 per visit (from $20). At the same time, there are some increases in benefits -- for example, $1600 is payable every three years for hearing aids, up from $500.
The following year was another one for insurance cuts. From page 5 of the document entitled "benefits 2005:" "generic medications required when you fill prescriptions." As of Oct 1, 2004, "if you choose to purchase the brand-name medication when a generic is available, you will pay the higher brand-name copay, PLUS the difference in cost between the generic and brand name." The PLUS is in italics. Again, there are some increases in benefits: for example, those over age 50 get a routine physical paid for every 12 months instead of every 24 months.

The changes depend on which plan you're enrolled in, in case that wasn't already obvious. While it might cost more to the partner to have the health coverage, I cannot imagine Starbucks cutting the coverage to part-time partners ever. It would be a bad thing, for many reasons.

What burns me is hearing several (I'm sure there are many more) non-retail partners bitch and moan about how they should have better benefits than the retail partners. The sense of entitlement from some people makes me see red. I often wish I could read them the riot act without getting fired.

Just wanted to make a quick point regarding changes in health insurance plans, that sometimes changes in benefits have more to do with the insurance company than with the employer. For example, my employer (NOT Starbucks) had always provided top of the line health care coverage, under a plan with no office visit co-pays and paying 100% after a $100 deductible. Starting this year however, that plan was no longer offered by our insurance carrier, period. So we still have the best plan we can get, but we now have a co-pay and only 90% paid with a $250 deductible.

This is clearly a reduction in medical benefits, but it was mandated by the insurance company, not a choice made by my employer. Obviously I don't know all the details of the Starbucks health care plan, but you might consider that some changes might be at least partly related to the insurance company.


Starbucks doesn't use an outside insurance company. It is self-insured. It uses an outside administrator.

Sounds to me like a lot of people responding to this are young, don’t have much experience with the "real world" of corporate America or have an understanding of astronomical rise in medical cost, which by the way are directly related to the increase costs of health benefits. Or maybe they just like to bitch...about anything. They're probably a joy to work with, too.

You think you're getting the shaft because SB maybe cutting back in benefits? Anyone who has worked for a major corporation for 5-10 years could tell you about the abundance of benefits companies used to provide and in addition to healthcare, all at NO cost, to employees. You'd really be in tears.

I’m not saying that it’s right, in fact the whole medical/insurance/politics of healthcare about puts me over the edge. But you can't blame SB or any other corporation for benefit cutbacks. If you're ignorant enough to believe it's a "ploy" to increase profits, you have no concept of the costs to run a business, the cost to provide employees health benefits, and you obviously haven't looked at your latest doctor bill to see how much higher the actual charges are than your co-pay. When was the last time you looked at the retail price of a prescription you got? Very likely whatever you paid as a co-pay was a bargain. I pay over $100 a month, in co-pays, for prescriptions that would cost close to $2000 without insurance. Who says the drug & insurance companies are not out of control?

If you're really concerned about this issue and feel the need to “blame” someone, stop being a such a boob and quit your whining. Do something productive...like write you're congressman.

Kenny G

My 24-year old single mother daughter works at Starbucks part-time. She'll begin having health insurance October 1 for the first time since she left my home. A week ago, she and her baby fled from her abusive boyfriend (the father of the baby). Starbucks is giving her $750 to help her, even though she has relocated with her family in another state. They are very likely going to re-hire her, as well, in the other state. This is a good company, and you can believe that I'll be buying coffee there for a LONG time. Make mine Venti, please.


Question for those of you who know - Once a part time employee begins working for Starbucks, when does he/she begin recieving health benefits? I've heard that you have to work a minimum/average of 20 hours per week for 3 months. Is this true?


KJ: It's approximately a 3-month wait.

The benefits calendar is broken down into three-month increments. To maintain benefits, you need to work 240 hours per quarter, which is a bit less than 20 hours a week. For initial eligibility, you need 160 hours in two consecutive calendar months. Benefits start the first day of the second month after that (assuming you then have 240 hours).

Because of the paycheck schedule and the way the calendar falls, if you are cutting it close you need to keep careful track. It is easy to miscalculate by a week and end up with 238 hours for the quarter.

Barista to the Stars

Kennny --

Do you know if your daughter received money from the CUP fund? It's money that partners contribute to a fund to help other partners who are in need. I was just wondering because I always thought it was the coolest thing and I've never known anyone who received funds. I've contributed since my first paycheck.

Good luck to your daughter and good for her that she found a great company to work for -- Starbucks!

Barista to the Stars


Yes, that was the CUP Fund. It's an awesome thing, and makes me really proud to work there.

As for benefits eligibility, one important distinction. It's 240 PAID hours over the quarter, not worked. PAID HOURS is the key.


Good for you, BTTS...I contribute to the CUP fund, too. It's a great benefit.
It's a fact, too, that every partner who was put out of work by Hurricane Katrina received $500 in emergency funds from Sbux. This is on a personal level; they are also eligible to apply for CUP fund monies. Starbucks also pledged $5 million over the next five years for hurricane relief, and donated 300,000 pounds of coffee, as well as Ethos water and Tazo drinks to victims and rescue workers.
Say what you want: a damn fine company.


Yes, indeed, Coriander is correct. The paid hours show up on your paystub as quartered (QTD) hours. It is this number that is important, especially because this number needs to hit 240 well before the last day of the calendar month (a week to a week-and-a-half before, depending on how the calendar falls).
When you become eligible for benefits, they send you stuff in the mail that spells all this out. It's still kind of confusing, especially if you are cutting it close. I've had managers who didn't get it right.

Barista to the Stars

Thanks for the info JavaJockey -- I knew Starbuck's is a company that steps up but I didn't know that they had responded so fast and so thoroughly to the need in LA. Wow.....that's awesome!

PS -- just as an aside: I am an expert at manipulating my hours to make sure that I get 240 PAID hours in the quarter. What you have to do is determine the last day that you will be paid before the end of the quarter. For Q3, that was Sept. 30. The pay period for that Q closed on 9/25. That means that any hours that you were paid for on or before the check issued on Sept 30 will be counted toward Q3 benefits eligibility.

PAID is important -- you get one personal day every six months and vacation time starts to accrue after your 90 probationary period. So, it is possible to add some hours using your personal day and vacation time.

It's a good idea to make sure you understand -- call 1-800-SBUXBEN. I've always found them to be well informed and helpful.

Barista to the Stars


The yahoo news link is dead, but here's another:


Sorry, the url I pasted above is too long to see all of it, he's a tinyurl for it:

little latte

Has everyone missed the broader point of Mr. Shultz's comments? Employer sponsored medical insurance COSTS are escalating at a rate that are breaking employers who provide coverage! General Motors is facing possible bankrupcy in no small part becuase it [too] spends more in health care coverage for current and retired employees than it spends anually for it's raw materials - and they make $30,000 automobiles out of steel and electronics, not $3 cups of coffee!

Spend your time and energy examining and reforming the [Bush-Admministration protected and subsidized] medical, hospital, pharmaceutical and insurance monoliths who are CREATING the problem. In other words, don't hate the player, hate the game!

California Health Insurance

It is unfortunate health insurance costs are rising and I hope starbucks doesn't take away benefits from employees.


I wish I worked for Starbucks!


We'll see ten years from now how many of these people who thinks sbux is the coolest company is still working for it. The turnaround rate is pretty high, baristas, shift leads, ass-managers, managers, and district managers come and go. How many of these people who loves sbux works in the busy stores?


By the way, CUP funding is 100% contributed by hourly partners. A dollar every two weeks ain't killing me. But after four years of giving, I'm gonna stop contributing. I'll still donate to non-profit orgs. such as AMVETS.



Actually sbux has one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry.

What does that have to do with the CUP fund? I think it's pretty sh*tty to stop contributing to it. To each his own...


Starbucks chips in money for HEARING AIDS? I know government workers and teachers in PA - who have amazing benefits, the best in the state - and even they don't get a dime contributed towards hearing aids.

I don't know - there's a huge amount of bashing going on at www.starbucksunion.org, and if managers deliberately force baristas to work less than 20 hours so as not to qualify for benefits, that's a big issue.

But as a non-barista observer, it seems to me that Starbucks has an AMAZING health policy.

I've worked in jobs where, at 37.5 hrs. a week, I was never even offered benefits that I could pay for, and I've paid HUGE chunks of my salary at full time jobs for benefits that don't offer ten percent of what Starbucks offers.

Seems to me there's a lot of unhappy baristas looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth.


As a Shift Supervisor working for Starbucks over 3 years, I have to agree with LITTLE LATTE. It is the industries, not Starbucks, that regulate what you get for health coverage. The ability to sue for anything that occurs (as in sueing your OBGYN because your newborn has a birth defect)raises doctors' malpractice insurance costs.
Starbucks continually provides for its partners, more than most other companies.
In addition, to question CORNFROST's comment: Starbucks doesn't use an outside insurance company. It is self-insured. It uses an outside administrator.

I have insurance through Starbucks using Aetna (they are an outside insurance company, not Starbucks-owned.)
As stated before, people need to get their facts straight before bashing.


With the exception of co-pays and deductibles, are part-timers(240 paid QTR hrs) required to pay anything towards the cost of the monthly health insurance premiums? Anyone know the range for the employee cost of the different plans?


I pay $68 a month for full medical (ppo) and dental for my wife and myself.


MGR2, please share statistics of SBUX having one of lowest turnover rates in industry. (Look at all the stores, not just the slow easy ones). Last calendar year, my store of 32 partners lost 10. That does not include transfer outs. (Yeah, we hit 37K in sales one week). I stated that the turnover rate is pretty high, I did not say that no one makes a career out of SBUX. As for my CUP fund contribution, I was probably the only person in my store who contributed. On the subject of health care, I was happy with mine through SBUX/AETNA. It is a good deal, part of the overall package.


you should realize that most other retail stores have around 1-200% turnover. Some McDonalds have 500%. You only had 35% turnover which is nothing in the world of retail.


Starbucks is self-insured. Of course Starbucks does not own Aetna. Starbucks hires Aetna as an administrator. But Starbucks pays the claims. If you break your leg, Starbucks pays for the doctor and the X-rays and the crutches; Aetna does not.

This explains way more than you want to know:



Rising healthcare costs? Ha! The only costs that are rising are insurance premiums. As a healthcare provider I can tell you that my percentage of reimbursement over the past 5 years has dropped steadily. The insurance industry (and the oil industry) are the only two industries that have posted skyrocketing profits since 9/11. As for self-insured, SBUX pays the claims but, AETNA administers ... and you'd better believe that AETNA's goal is to NOT authorize payment, they get paid a portion of whatever they save, Starbucks simply acts as the piggybank and AETNA is guarding it, sometimes unfairly and unjustly. As for malpractice claims, the incidence rates have NOT gone up dramatically, only the insurance companies rates ... back to insurance companies taking all the profits and trying to stick it to everyone, patients and providers alike. I will say that SBUX is indeed an amazing company and they take great care of their employees. Blame insurers, not providers or employers ... it's the insurance racket that is soaking everyone as much as possible.

just my two cents.


If insurance at Starbucks is dropped because someone lets their part time hours drop below 240 in a quarter, can anything be done to keep coverage? My daughter is pregnant, works for Starbucks, and is due in a month. Her hours went below 240 last quarter, and her insurance is being dropped next week. She is trying to find a way to keep her insurance without going on Cobra. Any advice would be appreciated

Jenny @ a latte talk

I'm curious if anyone knows what the insurance rates are beyond the employee and spouse? I have three kids, and I'm wondering... anybody know/ have a link for the premium rates? Thanks!

With the advent of the Internet you can now go online and get medical insurance quotes in just a matter of minutes. The easiest way to do this is to go to an insurance comparison website where you fill out a single questionnaire to get multiple quotes from different companies. It's quick, it's easy, and it's free


You're the geretast! JMHO

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