Important Tips for Employee Benefits Bargaining

Teresa Williams, HealthTrust Benefits Advisor

The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA's legal services or your municipal attorney.

Managing employee benefit plans in a collective bargaining environment can be challenging for both employers and unions.  It is important to work with your benefit providers to access their support, resources and expertise early in the negotiation process.  Keep education at the forefront of the process so that all parties have a comprehensive understanding of current benefits and any potential benefit options.  It is important to know before a contract is finalized which benefits are available and can be implemented by your provider.

2 Key Steps to Take

  1. Share information. Share information across the entire committee, with both management and union representatives. HealthTrust, and most benefit providers, have staff available to help provide information. HealthTrust’s trained representatives can attend meetings, review reports about claims and rates, discuss benefit options, and provide education sessions for the committee and larger union audiences.
  2. Use the resources and tools available to you from your benefits provider. For example, if you belong to a HealthTrust Member Group, you have access to these valuable resources:
  • Stewardship Report (for Groups with 100 or more Enrollees) – A customized and detailed report showing membership data, medical and prescription claims utilization data, wellness program participation and recommendations
  • Rating Summary – A report showing how rates are calculated.
  • Plan designs and options – Strategies to reduce costs and promote consumerism while continuing to provide comprehensive employee benefits.
  • Wellness and condition management programs – Programs that build awareness and encourage collaboration to promote healthy lifestyles and mitigate rising healthcare costs.

HealthTrust is Here to Help

The above tips are important to take into consideration before entering negotiations, but remember, you don’t have to do it alone. It is important to work with HealthTrust or your coverage provider before agreeing to a benefit plan change, whether it is medical, dental, life, short-term disability or long-term disability coverage.

Whether you are a HealthTrust Member or not, the HealthTrust team is a valuable resource.  Changes to the collective bargaining agreement can affect employers, employees, elected boards and taxpayers. By working with your benefits provider, and by communicating with your employees about their options, you can reach an agreement that allows you to provide the benefits your employees and retirees need, while helping to contain healthcare costs for everyone.  

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Teresa Williams is a HealthTrust Benefits Advisor.