MN2020: Union Finds Better Health Care Formula
We’re featured at Minnesota 2020 today, in a great article by Aaron Sinner: “Union Finds Better Health Care Formula“
In brief, Local 49 has solved one of the trickiest challenges of the U.S. health care crisis: we’re getting outstanding medical outcomes with effective cost control, and we’re getting ahead of the costs that continue to spiral out-of-control for almost every other group.
The story starts with a familiar situation. In 2004, the Operating Engineers, or 49ers as they’re known, were struggling to manage their rapidly rising health expenses.
“We were hemorrhaging,” said Jim Hansen, Local 49’s recently retired Health and Welfare Trustee. When the union negotiated compensation increases, the numbers suggested it needed to invest the entirety of the raise in health insurance…
By their second year of implementation, the 49ers had already bent the cost curve; costs have now been flat for the past three years. For a system based on the importance of prevention, such a result is phenomenal, as the bulk of money saved through prevention, early detection and fewer wasted health care dollars can show up many years after the initial intervention.
The key to even greater savings for the 49ers is more member participation. Expensive treatments down the road are hard on us all; but they’re plain stupid when they can be prevented through early detection.
It’s a break from the traditional approach. It’s data-driven. It’s working even though we still need greater participation.
“It arms people with information they’d have no way of finding on their own,” said Jason George, the Legislative and Political Organizer for the 49ers. With the information in hand, the union locates the best doctors for any given medical problem and works to set up their members with those doctors…
“When you implement anything new it’s critical to educate members about the benefits and the reasons behind the new program.”
Well-informed patient advocacy and member participation are the keys. Health Systems Management helps members and their families take maximum advantage of the data they’ve collected on hospitals, doctors, and outcomes throughout our region; they make sure no one slips through the cracks.
If you call them, that is.