Ford, UAW and UAW Trust Launch ‘Cost Cutting’ Health Care

Ford Motor Company, the United Auto Workers and the UAW Trust are launching an experimental program that it is hoped will improve the health of Ford’s hourly active employees and the Trust’s non-Medicare retired members. Along the way, Ford is attempting to cut costs as U.S. health care continues to deliver inferior third-world levels of results, at premium platinum prices.

The two-year gambit is voluntary for hourly employees and non-Medicare retirees and comes from the 2011 Ford-UAW contract negotiations. The UAW, whose health care plans will ultimately be severely taxed for their lavishness under the misnamed “Affordable Health Care Act” has its own needs to institute reform. A “Cadillac tax” is in place for 2018 that will impose a 40% tax on the value of health insurance plans above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families, which would affect most UAW members. (Read AutoInformed on Ford CAW Approves First Four-Year Two-Tier Wage Contract)

In a statement Ford Motor said, “through a personalized care approach, the program looks for ways to help with current chronic, manageable health care needs and to prevent future problems when possible.”

Participants will be invited into the pilot program by their doctor to leave his or her care if their “health needs” suggest they “will benefit” from frankly much less access to physicians. The program is voluntary for hourly employees and non-Medicare retirees and begins this summer.

“This pilot is expected to help us to deliver better health care to our employees, while helping to lower total health care costs,” said Marty Mulloy, vice president of labor affairs at Ford.

Through the program, participating patients will have access to a “personal care nurse,” who works with a patient and it is said, “his or her doctor to coordinate care and achieve the patient’s personalized health goals.” Patients can contact their personal care nurse by phone, email or in person as frequently as needed at no additional cost. Currently, UAW members get unlimited visits to doctors at no cost.

The pilot will be conducted with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network of Michigan, both of which have been steadily raising rates, increasing deductibles and denying claims on non-UAW plan members since “Affordable Care,” passed.

None of the politicians contacted by AutoInformed for years now has provided a persuasive explanation how these increases happened and how they will be rectified. In particular, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan consistently ignores, or non-answers by form letter any query about any public policy issue by AutoInformed. Levin, of course, is not covered by ‘affordable care,’ as he has his own separate and entirely non-equal health care plan, among other perquisites that are not available to taxpayers that politicians have set up for themselves.

The Health Alliance Plan, as well as select physicians located in southeast Michigan are also part of the program, but AutoInformed is not able to comment on their practices at this time.

Ford, the UAW and the Trust claim to play “no clinical role in the program, have no knowledge of who is eligible or participating, and provide only financial support.”

 In a phrase used in the press release that had the AutoInformed office laughing aloud – lol – it was claimed, “Patient privacy is guaranteed by the federal government.” This would be the Federal government which is busy using the NSA to snoop on all American citizens in a secret program that a secret court is rubber stamping every further request for apparently endless spying for what critics say is at heart unconstitutional search and seizure,  violations of due process and the inability of citizen victims to confront their accusers in open court, where rules of evidence apply, including how it was obtained while the defense plays adversary to abuses of government power whose politicians say in effect “trust us.” lol

Ford, the UAW and the Trust expect 1,200 to 1,500 participants to join out of 18,000 active hourly employees with the Trust with 118,000 non-Medicare retired members. The $52.4 billion UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust is the largest non-governmental payer of retiree health care benefits in the United States, providing health care benefits to nearly 800,000 UAW retirees and dependents.

You can bet that mandatory enrollment in this program will be at the center of the upcoming 2015 contract talks between Ford Motor and the UAW. In the interim, you can also bet that similar programs, also at first voluntary, will be introduced at Chrysler Group and General Motors.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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