Message from the Secretary-Treasurer

By: Leo T. Reed

Union members are among the fortunate working Americans to have job-based health care coverage. Protecting your health care benefits is of the highest priority, but one that gets harder to negotiate each year. The staggering cost of medical care is an enormous financial burden affecting everyone, but your union has the strength to bargain for preservation of your benefits.

There is no question that huge challenges continue to plague the nation’s health care system, particularly during these difficult economic times when more and more workers are losing their job-based health insurance. Your union is your protection!

Whether you enjoy good health or are currently under a doctor’s care, it is imperative that you use your benefits wisely in order to control costs. Health care costs continue to rise at an alarming rate — and while each of us can’t stop these increases, we can work together to protect this premium benefit.

Your health plan includes contracted rates with outstanding medical professionals and facilities, and in many cases, programs that can help you manage a chronic medical problem or assist you in making positive lifestyle changes.

Using these benefits responsibly is the job of each member. Staying within the network of providers and taking advantage of offered programs will help you save out-of-pocket expenses. More important, you will be doing your part to help preserve your benefits in the future.

By working together, and being diligent in our cost-saving efforts, we can help safeguard and protect one of the most important benefits you and your covered dependents have come to count on – your health care coverage.

To put it simply, here are some ways you can make the most of the benefits your union has negotiated on your behalf:

Take Charge of Your Health

Remember what you have been hearing in the media and from others: you can make lifestyle changes nowto help you feel better and avoid preventable diseases like high blood pressure and heart problems, diabetes and circulatory problems.

It may be as simple as losing weight, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking. These goals can be reached through wellness programs and information from your doctor’s office. Change comes slowly, but the benefits are well worth the effort on your part.

Stay Within Your Network

You can save out-of-pocket expenses and help keep plan costs down by staying within your network. You may use preferred or non-preferred providers, but your out-of-pocket costs will be much higher if you use non-preferred providers.

Understand Your Coverage

Understanding what is, and what is not covered under your health insurance can save you both money and frustration when you are trying to schedule necessary medical procedures. Your plan administration staff members are willing to explain your coverage and they welcome your calls. They are there to serve you.

Avoid Expensive Emergency Room Visits

In a true emergency, the best action you can take is to call 9-1-1 immediately or go to the nearest medical facility. However, for non-emergency treatment, it is most important to call your primary care physician first. Emergency Room visits are extremely expensive. Avoiding them whenever possible can save you significant out-of-pocket expenses.

Your Local 399 union always is committed to helping members stay healthy and keeping costs down, so that we can preserve your quality health care benefits in the future. We hope you will understand and follow the guidelines above, and of course, call the office if you have any questions about your health coverage.