Healthcare continues to be a hot-button issue in today’s political climate. Luckily, healthcare coverage has historically been a union benefit.

For starters: on top of the fact that labor union members make an average of 30 percent more than nonunion workers, 92 percent of union workers have job-related health insurance. Only 68 percent of nonunion workers have similar healthcare coverage. Health insurance and coverage is one of many labor union benefits that aims to protect you and your loved ones.

Healthcare coverage is one of the most important factors workers take into consideration prior to choosing a job, career, or labor union. It’s hard to believe that what is now an important pillar of job security was once a radical idea, and at one point called a “communist plot” by a Congress subcommittee. Healthcare, as an institution, was established shortly after WWII as a New Deal initiative but had precursors long beforehand.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HEALTHCARE COVERAGE & SERVICES

Early healthcare reform was motivated by accidents in the workplace. In the early 20th century, factories ruled the industry: laborers were shoved into enclosed factories for hours on end, operating heavy machinery and working in conditions deemed condemnable by today’s standards. Prior to advanced healthcare coverage provided by labor unions, hospitals were thought of as a place for just the deathly ill or injured.

By the late 1920s, hospitals were full of empty beds every night. Officials at Baylor University noticed a trend: Americans were spending more on cosmetics than healthcare services. In their defense, unless you were wealthy, it was easier to set aside smaller amounts than spending years saving up for one hospital visit. Baylor went on to develop a healthcare coverage ideology and system wherein Americans could pay for healthcare the “same way they pay for lipstick – a tiny bit each month.” They tested this healthcare system with specific groups, such as public school teachers. The teachers paid 50 cents to the hospital each month in exchange for Baylor handling the hospital bill.

Once the Great Depression hit, Baylor’s newfangled healthcare coverage system was exponentially popular because many lacked the resources to even consider healthcare amid economic turmoil. And with that, Blue Cross healthcare was born and soon available everywhere.

WWII further cemented our modern system of receiving healthcare benefits through employment. During the war, worker’s wages and pricing controls were put in the hands of American employers. With power dispersed across industries instead of centralized, employers found themselves having to compete for workers. Offering healthcare coverage benefits as an incentive proved effective in acquiring employees.

UNION BENEFITS AND HEALTHCARE COVERAGE

The concept behind organized healthcare services and labor unions is very similar: to provide opportunities and outlets for the betterment of all people. Labor unions fully believe in taking care of their members so they can continue delivering the exceptional service they’ve built their livelihoods upon. Healthcare is one of the many labor union benefits members receive to increase financial stability and ensure a secure future. Some of the benefits employees are often tendered pertain to behavioral health, disability, life insurance, continuation coverage, medical, prescription, dental, pension, and vision. Most union employers in the building trades industry cover the cost of union healthcare rather than deducting this cost from the employee’s paycheck. These union employers work hand-in-hand with members to provide labor union benefits that meet their needs. As healthcare costs consistently rise, the importance of receiving fair benefits is paramount. The benefits of unions and healthcare include increased productivity, superior training, and enhanced communication. Another union benefit includes lower turnover rates, which parlays into more achieved objectives and an overall improved company culture. Providing employees with labor union benefits such as healthcare coverage are beneficial for employers seeking to build a reliable and efficient atmosphere with rich communication.

Check with your union representative to see what your union healthcare benefit options are as they relate to you and your family. Union benefits will vary in each labor union and industry. It is important to know not only what the costs are, but the rationale behind them.