Significant health services access at NO COST to members
By MARY ANN HOLLEY
Cement Masons Local 527 is breaking new ground in a partnership with Activate Health, offering a new, totally free, unlimited health benefit to members and their families in addition to the local’s regular health insurance.
Activate Health, a division of Everside Health, provides members access to “concierge” doctors – direct primary care (DPC) personalized medical service providers – and is funded entirely by a flat fee paid by Local 527 for its insured members.
Local 527 Business Manager Kurt Dierkes said members will never be charged for medical care when they visit one of five Activate Health clinics in the St. Louis area, giving them access to a doctor, – any time of the day or night – at no cost.
“We’re really happy with it,” Dierkes said. “It’s new for us and new for the industry,” Dierkes said. “It seems to be the thing of the future for our members, and several other trades are already taking an interest.”
All Local 527 active members and retired members who have not yet reached the age of 65 that are enrolled in the Local 527 Health and Welfare Plan are automatically enrolled in the program, which includes a 24/7 phone/email/tele-health program, providing members with free healthcare any time of the day or night, and free generic prescriptions prescribed at the clinic.
Members still have the option of securing health care through their regular insurance secured through the Local 527 Health and Welfare program, but now have the added option of calling one of the Activate Health clinics any time of the day or night, getting an appointment within a day and spending as much as 90 minutes with a physician at absolutely no cost.
‘MEMBERS FIRST’ FOR FREE
“It’s members first” at Local 527, Dierkes said, and the innovative cutting-edge Active Health program answers that call.
Dierkes said thoughtful management of Local 527’s Health and Welfare plan, which became self-funded in 2016, made it possible for the union to cover the flat-rate fee for members and their families without having to increase member contributions.
“Our officers, with members of Everside’s Activate team, have assembled a solid program for our members. We have connected all the dots,” Dierkes said. “Our union is in great shape. Our reserves have grown since we became self-funded, and we’re putting that savings toward our members’ health.”
CONVENIENT, PREVENTIVE CARE
Local 527 Financial Secretary Brad Campbell said the union is confident members will benefit from the opportunity to use one of the five convenient clinics located throughout the St. Louis area.
“There is a true cost savings to having our own health centers, but more importantly, there is the preventative health aspect, which is a greater gain for our members,” said Campbell. “The whole idea is to catch, warn and offer assistance early to provide our members with a better way of life. You can’t place a value on saving lives.
“Because there are no co-pays, we’re hoping members visit early and often, helping avoid serious health emergencies,” Campbell said.
Local 527 began negotiating with Everside more than a year ago and introduced the program at a union meeting, where it was well received by the membership.
Campbell attributes much of their success in bringing in this new benefit to the union, to their consultant, Paul Lancia of HM Benefits, for guiding them in the right direction.
“Paul has been a great asset in helping us move in the right direction,” Campbell said. “He’s been outstanding at providing all the right information, and I don’t know if all of this would have come about without him.”
Campbell said Activate has also contracted with Paul’s father, Angelo Lancia, founder of Lancia Consulting, to help spread the word about the program to other unions.
MEMBERS CAN KEEP THEIR OWN DOCTORS
Dierkes said one of his first questions when reviewing the program was whether members would be able to keep their own doctors.
“I have really good doctors, and I didn’t want to lose these guys,” Dierkes said. “You can keep your regular doctor, but if you get poison ivy or have another issue, and you can’t get into your doctor’s office for a couple of days, the clinics will take care of you.”
MEMBERS HAVE A CHOICE
“Our plan is moving forward,” said Dierkes. An informational meeting will be held with members and their spouses to introduce the program and encourage members to take advantage of the services it provides.
“If you don’t take this under consideration, you’re passing on a good deal,” he said, adding that the program is an especially good fit for members and their families who can’t ever seem to find the time to see a doctor.
Dierkes said Local 527 also is looking into some options to offer the free clinic services to new members and apprentices who don’t have the hours yet to qualify for Local 527 insurance.
“We’re really happy because we have a lot of firsts here,” Dierkes said. “This is revolutionary. We hope the members give the clinic a try.”