Sisters and Brothers,
As many of you know, in addition to being International President of the IUJAT, I serve as Business Manager of the United Welfare Fund (UWF). The UWF provides medical benefits to many IUJAT members. Effective April 2014, the UWF is self-insured, utilizing the Oxford/United Healthcare network of providers and hospitals. The prescription program continues to be administered through 4D Pharmacy management. Being self-insured means that the UWF actually pays the claims out of contributions collected, taking on the role of insurer along with the risks that entails.
There were many reasons why the UWF made the change to a self-insured plan:
- The UWF now has the ability to customize our plan designs to meet the needs of our Union members, instead of being limited to “cookie cutter” plans from an insurance carrier.
- The UWF will enjoy substantial savings from taxes and administrative costs.
- The UWF will now have more control on claims administration.
- Finally, there will be less of an impact on our members, our plans, and the UWF from changes related to the Affordable Care Act.
As always, the primary objective of the UWF is to provide the highest possible quality benefits to participating Union members and their families, while keeping costs down. To meet this objective it is imperative that we educate our participants about how to make wise and healthy lifestyle choices. One of the best ways to reduce future health costs is to take preventive measures today. As a group, the participants of the UWF have above average issues with high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis. However, the frequency of our wellness visits (although improving) are way below the norm. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75% of all health care spending is for chronic diseases that could be prevented.
Orthopedic, circulatory, and diabetes risks are predicted to be major cost drivers over the next year. The UWF will continue to encourage healthier lifestyles by promoting diabetes awareness, weight loss, and stop smoking programs. One such program you can take advantage of is to join a gym—almost all of our plans offer gym reimbursement. You can get reimbursed for part—or potentially all—of your monthly gym fees if you go to the gym an average of two to three times per week. We know that staying with an exercise routine isn’t easy, and this program can help you stay motivated
Since so many of our health issues are preventable, it makes sense to take steps to keep yourself (or get yourself) as healthy as possible. Go for regular checkups to catch any problems in their earliest stages. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Programs and advice are available to you through Oxford’s website: www.oxhp.com
Steven R. Elliott, Sr.