For years, Dennis Meaney watched his union members’ health decline while health plan costs continued to climb. He witnessed the negative trend firsthand in his role as business manager and financial secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 38 (IBEW Local 38), which represents electrical contractors across the Cleveland area.
Even with covered health benefits, he says, members put off getting their annual physicals and bypassed routine screenings. Moreover, almost a third of IBEW Local 38 workers identify as high-risk or have a chronic condition requiring ongoing medical care.
“I have a fiduciary responsibility as a trustee to make sure these [healthcare] plans solve problems,” Meaney says. “We couldn’t keep throwing money at it, taking more money out of our paychecks to pay for healthcare. We had to take a different approach.”
In 2018, Meaney’s colleague, Terry Joyce, business manager for the Building Laborers’ Union Local 310, invited him to meet with his union’s shared benefits consultant to learn how partnering with Marathon Health could provide solutions to upgrade their health plan offerings and connect members with free- and low-cost primary care, behavioral health, physical therapy and other wellness services.
“It was an easy sell for the [IBEW Local 38] trustees, because of the focus on wellness,” Meaney says. “We proceeded because our people weren’t going to the doctor regularly when they should be getting checked, or they were waiting too long before going to a doctor — we could see the side effects. The focus on the wellness is what drove us to engage with Marathon Health.”
Partnering with Marathon Health
Meaney, Joyce and other union officers worked with Marathon Health to launch two dedicated health centers for their union contractors and covered family members. Since opening health centers, 49% of the high-risk or chronic condition workers have engaged with Marathon Health services. Of workers with Diabetes and those with Asthma, 79% and 96%, respectively, now meet the standard of care, the level of care necessary to manage chronic diseases. In the United States, chronic diseases cost US employers $36.4 billion a year due to employees missing work.
Marathon Health provides an advanced primary care model focused on treating the whole patient, including physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. Providers customize care delivery based on individual preferences, values and goals using shared decision-making strategies.
Through the Marathon Health partnership, union members and their families gain access to a suite of in-person and virtual wellness services, including free medications, biometric screenings, health coaching, referral guidance for specialty care, and more. Union members rate their level of satisfaction with their health clinic visits at 96%.
Meaney says offering union members convenient access to mental health and physical therapy is important, so Marathon Health brought on full-time specialists for both.
Union members with chronic health conditions who engage with Marathon Health services
Members making improvements on biometric risk factors
Union member satisfaction with Marathon Health