Balancing fiduciary responsibilities while optimizing a benefit strategy is a challenging task for Taft-Hartley Plans. Health outcomes and patient satisfaction seem to decrease year over year, while healthcare costs continue to rise. However, Taft-Hartley Plans across the United States are working with their consultants to find solutions. While they’ve been around for more than 15 years, onsite and near-site union health centers are growing in popularity.  

Health centers help Taft-Hartley plans save money, deliver meaningful benefits and course-correct a broken healthcare system. Members receive free or low-cost access to a better patient experience that includes convenient access to advanced primary care.   

Here are some of the most common reasons Taft-Hartley Plans decide to implement onsite and near-site union health center(s) and virtual care to their members. 

1. Create a Better Patient Experience with Union Health Centers 

In today’s healthcare system, union members, like all patients, struggle with the complexity of medical bills and insurance coverage, are challenged by the fragmented delivery of care, and expect long wait times with limited provider time at appointments.   

Access to advanced primary care through your union’s health center offers the ability to move past those challenges by providing a cost structure that eliminates patient payments, focuses on proactive care, provides same-day or next-day appointments, and allows members to have deeper conversations with their providers. For many of our union partners, creating a better patient experience leads to better engagement and improved outcomes. On average, Marathon Health has a patient satisfaction rating of 97% among its labor union partners.  

Ann Babinyecz, a member of the Union Trades Medical Center, IBEW Local 38, says the entire care team was supportive when she went for pre-admission testing prior to surgery and learned her A1c was too high. “[They] began to help me understand the importance of managing my diabetes. They taught me the importance of healthy eating and how to exercise correctly. I lost 40 pounds and lowered my A1c. I have never felt better. It really saved my life.” 

2. Drive Better Member Engagement with Primary Care 

Engagement is a key factor in improving member health. When partnered with an onsite or near-site vendor, Taft-Hartley plans can create tailored campaigns to drive engagement into the health center.   

Creating specific email campaigns, such as a “Welcome Series” to educate new members about services, are table stakes. With a dedicated union health center partner and clinical team, you can find unique ways to better engage with membership. “The best way to drive engagement is to physically get in front of union members,” says Lauren May, Regional Vice President of the Client Care Team in the Midwest for Marathon Health. Attending union meetings and union events presents opportunities to build awareness of the health center team and builds a better patient-provider relationship. Additionally, finding opportunities to get in front of spouses, whether through communications or in-person events, drives better engagement.  

Some unions also offer incentives, such as discounts on insurance premiums for completing a variety of health activities, such as getting a biometric health screening at the center, getting an annual physical, visiting with a health coach, participating in a wellness challenge, or completing a comprehensive health review in the online portal.  

Members who are engaged at the health center visit an average of 3.4 times per year, which allows Taft-Hartley plans to save up to $2,000 per engaged member per year. 

3. Gain Control of Healthcare and Contain Costs for the Fund 

Today, 90% of healthcare costs stem from chronic conditions and our system of delivering primary care has proven to be ill-equipped to address these issues. Health centers give Taft-Hartley plans better control over the front door to healthcare by reducing downstream risks of chronic conditions, improving the coordination of care and eliminating unnecessary medical services.   

Health centers often include an integrated care team of physicians, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, behavioral health counselors, health coaches and physical therapists capable of providing a broad scope of preventive care services, naturally leading to better health outcomes and care coordination.   

Since 2019, IBEW Local 38 has had a health center for members, which offers physical therapy and behavioral health, in addition to advanced primary care and other services. “If somebody goes in and talks to a doctor and shares something with them, they’re not necessarily going to make another phone call,” says Michael Muzic, President of IBEW Local 38. “It’s just much easier for the doctor at Marathon to say, ‘You know our Marathon Health Behavioral Specialist is right over here. Why don’t I go get her, and you can talk to her and set up an appointment.”  

Services and programs can also be tailored for each union to better address their population’s known health problems. If claims data, for example, shows a union has a high rate of diabetes, the health coaches can offer a diabetes management program based around education to help members take control of their condition.    

When looking at union health center partners, consider one that offers referral management to help members find high-quality, in-network care at the lowest cost when they need to see a specialist. Care coordinators should work with members directly to help schedule care. It’s a benefit members have told us they enjoy because it’s one less appointment they have to coordinate.  

Caring for people through union health centers improves the health and happiness of American workers, saves the member and the Fund money, and helps unions achieve their mission of building a healthier and stronger membership.  


  • Tanner Darwell

    Tanner Darwell has spent 6 years working with organizations to implement onsite/near-site health solutions. As a Senior Solutions Consultant, Tanner has experience working with Taft-Hartley Plans and is extremely knowledgeable about the healthcare challenges union members face. He currently supports Marathon Health in growing the business and solutions for Taft-Hartley Plans across America.

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