Short Takes On News & Events

Health Coverage Holding Up Better For Union Members

By Phil Galewitz

July 21st, 2011, 4:19 PM

Labor unions, under pressure by states and employers to shoulder more of their health care costs, have fared relatively well at protecting workers’ health benefits during the recession, according to a study released today.

Photo by Richard Eriksson via Flickr

The study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington found that from 2007 to 2009 union workers were less likely to lose employer-based health coverage than nonunion workers.

Union workers covered by health insurance through their own job fell from 82 percent to 80.4 percent between 2007 and 2009, a 2 percent drop, EBRI found. For nonunion workers with coverage through their own job, coverage fell from 55.9 percent to 52.2 percent over the period, a 6.5 percent decline.

Additionally, the overall percentage of union workers with any employment-based coverage fell from 93.4 percent to 91 percent –a 2.6 percent decline, while among nonunion workers it fell from 74.3 percent to 70.6 percent –a 5 percent decline

“The analysis shows that unionization is a key to many workers having health benefits, and that during tough economic times, union worker health benefits suffer less,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the study.

But Fronstin warned that as unionization in the private sector continues to decline, so will the overall percentage of workers with employer-based coverage.

Last September, the Census Bureau released a study that showed that the bad economy caused a sharp increase in the number of the uninsured in 2009, to 50.7 million people.

One Response to “Health Coverage Holding Up Better For Union Members”

  1. Tony says:

    We have watched the corrupt behavior of health care insurance companies and health care providers over many decades. We have watched them, in many of those years, collude to allow costs to rise at twice that of the cost of living. Some years we watched as these corrupt health insurers and health providers allowed health care costs to skyrocket at “three times” the cost of living. In every case, these people have fostered higher costs for the consumer. The private insurers and the private providers have ruined America’s health care delivery system. The consumer was always the least of their priorities as profits were their top priority. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 allows for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). These ACOs have wellness and preventive care as their top priority. ACO Groups are rewarded for wellness and not volume. These ACO Groups are paid a flat rate fee per year per patient. The profit motive is simple. If your patient stays well, the ACO Group spends less to treat that patient, the ACO Group get s to keep what they don’t spend on the patient. The ACO model ends fee-for-service volume care. Why can’t unions form ACOs? Why can’t unions build hospitals and hire doctors and other health care professionals and set up an ACO Group for their union members? These ACOs would operate as non-profit organizations. A non-profit ACO model eliminates the greed motive.That’s a giant step in the right direction. It’s time for unions to form ACOs strictly for their union membership.