It’s all too easy today to think of labor unions and employers as being locked in adversarial roles. But when it comes to opening a health clinic for municipal employees, the alignment of interests would probably surprise even the biggest skeptics.
Working with labor unions in the public sector
Union membership continues to grow in the public sector. In fact, the rate of union membership is already five times higher in the public (35%) vs. the private (7%) sector. Employers in the public sector gain a lot from investing in health and wellness centers. So do their union employees.
For example, last week in Dayton, Ohio marked the grand opening of "the D.O.C.," the Dayton Offsite Clinic. The D.O.C. is dedicated to the public servants of the City of Dayton. Unions represent 75% of these employees. This includes police and fire fighters, clerical and sanitation workers and many more. Unions played a major role in endorsing the clinic and choosing Healthstat as its operator.
What's in it for the labor unions and their members?
Labor unions share a common goal with employers to get healthcare costs under control. Salary and benefits both come from the same pot of money. And in the case of local governments, that's taxpayer money - of which there never seems to be enough to go around. So if the cost of healthcare benefits is growing too fast, there isn't much that public employees can talk about from a salary standpoint. Out of control healthcare costs just don't leave room for discussing wage increases.
What escalating benefit costs do seem to leave room for is an increase in the amount that employees are asked to pay out-of-pocket. So even as employers spend more to employ their workers, it feels like wages themselves are going backwards.
Is this answer too good to be true?
It may take a moment for labor representatives to understand why a municipality would want to offer its public sector employees a clinic dedicated just to them. So maybe we should first explain what the clinic is not.
- It's not mandatory. Public sector employees across the country use Healthstat clinics because they want to. They absolutely love the convenience, the quality, the personalized care, and the savings. We're not trying to replace physicians in the community. We're just trying to make it easier for everyone to access the quality care they need when they need it.
- It's not eyes and ears for an employer. All personal health information is protected in Healthstat clinics, just the way it is in any medical office.
Goals we can all get behind
Here are some of the things that a clinic dedicated to public sector employees can and should be. They’re what management and labor both need, now and into the future.
- A way to preserve quality medical care for employees in the face of unsustainable cost escalation
- A tool to make healthcare costs more predictable
- A partner in closing gaps in care, making sure that employees get the prevention and wellness services they need
- A trusted guide through a complex healthcare system, with the ability to help employees make the best use of all the benefits offered to them
- A place to get personalized coaching and education that helps employees lead healthier lives
- A solution for employees to take care of themselves without losing excess time from work or sacrificing wages
- A guaranteed way to improve population health outcomes