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Do Unions provide good Health Care Coverage?

Jun 9th, 2009

health careThere are many reasons for choosing a job besides the obvious reason of being employed and collecting a paycheck at the end of the week. One consideration is to choose an employer based on whether or not the company has a union on the premises or there is a union in the field such as the United Teamsters Union.  Union workers are paid better than non-unionized workers.  However, salary is not the only issue to consider.  With the high cost of private health insurance, most people would be wise to choose and employer who will provide group Coverage.

Traditionally unionized workers have more fringe benefits than their non-unionized counterpart.  Unionized workers are more likely to have paid leave of absences, pensions, and most importantly health care coverage. Just having a health care plan provided by the employer is not good enough in this economy.   Many workers have some kind of health care coverage but it is not always affordable. However, unionized shops provide a more cost effective health insurance plan than do non-unionized shops.

Unionized employee health insurance plan deductibles are usually about 18 percent lower than they are for non-unionized employees, and the cost for family coverage is generally lower as well.  Furthermore, employers pay 11 per cent higher share for individual union premiums than they do for the non-unionized worker as well as approximately a 15 per cent higher share for family coverage than they would for non-unionized workers. This in turn, lowers the unionized worker’s health insurance premium. There is more of a chance that unionized workers will be able to continue their coverage after they retire than would be possible with non-unionized worker health plans.

Though these perks are not salary in terms of a paycheck each week they do translate to saving money on your existing paycheck by not having to pay out higher insurance premiums or having more out of pocket expenses as a result of high deductibles.  These considerations become important for young families who plan to have a family and need prenatal care and routine visits to the doctor for their children’s annual checkups and inoculations, or for older couples who require monthly medication for chronic illnesses and more doctor visits, diagnostic testing, and treatment.

Furthermore, unions are instrumental in securing paid leaves for maternity and sickness.  They are also vitally important in changing existing laws concerning health and safety conditions at the workplace.  Unsanitary, hazardous, or toxic work environments lead to accidents, injuries, and health related illnesses.  Workers in these environments run the risk of contracting respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lung infections, and cancer.  Making the working environment safe for all employees not only aids in the prevention of various illnesses, it also helps to keep down the cost of health coverage in general.  When insurance companies set the premiums for union workers’ group insurance plans they do take into consideration the health risks present or not present at the job site.

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