The 32BJ Health Fund is an unusually effective collaboration between a labor union (SEIU 32BJ) and management (represented collectively by the Reality Advisory Board in New York) to provide affordable, comprehensive, and innovative health coverage to working-class people. The Fund aggregates employer contributions from 5,000 employers, ranging from many small businesses to global real estate firms, and uses these contributions to provide benefits to 200,000 people.
The 32BJ Health Fund serves members of the SEIU 32BJ union and their families. The union members are cleaners, property maintenance workers, doorpersons, security officers, window cleaners, building engineers, school and food service workers, and airport workers in 11 states and Washington, DC.
As Director of the Health Fund for the 32BJ Benefit Funds, Sara Rothstein manages comprehensive healthcare benefits (including hospital, medical, pharmacy, dental, vision and life insurance) for 32BJ members and their dependents.
The 32BJ Health Fund approaches health coverage differently than traditional health plans.
By aggregating benefits for union members across 5,000 mostly small employers, the Fund is able to offer benefits that are more cost-effective than the average benefit offered by most employers. Particularly for the many small employers who contribute to the plan, the benefits far exceed what they could buy in the market at the price they pay.
In part because of their relationship with the union, union members stay in their jobs longer than the average worker and the Health Fund has low turnover amongst its plan participants. Union members can also change jobs within the industry without disruption in benefits. This means that the Health Fund is incentivized to think about keeping plan participants healthy for the long-term.
Whereas most workers get their health benefits through their employers, members of SEIU 32BJ get their insurance through the Health Fund. Members know that the Health Fund’s purpose is to provide high-quality benefits and doesn’t seek to make a profit from the services it provides. Whereas employees may be hesitant to discuss personal health issues with their employers, the Fund’s plan participants frequently contact the Fund for recommendations about healthcare providers and trust the information that the Fund provides.
The Health Fund works with 32BJ and contributing employers to communicate regularly with members through conventional mailings, social media, and on-site workplace meetings to make sure members understand the benefits they are entitled to. The Fund also runs its own on-site call center to answer questions about its benefits.
According to polls conducted by the Global Strategy Group in 2018 of Health Fund plan participants, 91 percent are satisfied with their coverage, and 88 percent trust the Health Fund to recommend programs to them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Members pay $0 premiums, $0 deductibles, and $0 co-pays for many preferred providers, and low co-pays for other providers.
The Health Fund assesses provider performance and incentivizes high-value care that keeps costs low. For example, the 32BJ Health Fund saves millions of dollars through its use of the Centers of Excellence and innovative benefit plan design..
Many employers struggle to maintain health benefits without shifting more costs to employees each year. The management and union trustees of the 32BJ Health Fund emphasize controlling total costs for both employers and employees. Successes include:
- Below trend increases in employer contributions year after year
- Flat prescription drug costs in an environment of great increases
- Millions of dollars saved through Centers of Excellence and benefit plan design
91 percent of the Health Fund’s members say that they are satisfied with their insurance, and 88 percent of members trust the Health Fund to recommend programs to them.