5 ways teachers’ unions can help improve healthcare for members

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Key takeaways

State healthcare plans for teachers often fall short, but there are ways teachers’ unions can help improve healthcare for members.

Many people assume that states provide teachers with inexpensive, quality health insurance. However, the reality is, plans often fall short.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) publishes data on teacher pay and benefits for the 16-state SREB region (AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA and WV). A look at SREB’s 2022 data shows that monthly health insurance premiums are on the rise for teachers in the region, and plans are exposing teachers to high deductibles and high out-of-pocket maximums, especially when it comes to family plans.

While teachers’ unions can advocate and bargain for good healthcare benefits for members, the states ultimately decide on plan options. However, there are still ways teachers’ unions can step up and help. 

Check out these 5 ways teachers’ unions can help improve healthcare for members.

1. Offer dental & vision coverage
Dental and vision insurance are widely considered to be must-have employee benefits, yet data from SREB shows that not all school districts offer teachers dental and vision coverage. If there are teachers in your union who don’t have access to this vital healthcare through the state, your union can step in and help fill the need. Dental and vision care are essential to keeping our teachers healthy. Just consider these facts:

  • According to the National Association of Dental Plans, people without dental benefits are 67% more likely to have heart disease, 50% more likely to have osteoporosis and 29% more likely to have diabetes.
  • According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, many health risks can be detected by an eye exam, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

2. Offer supplemental health insurance
Looking at the SREB deductible and out-of-pocket maximum amounts shared above, we can see that many teachers are being exposed to high out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Meanwhile, the underpayment of teachers is widely acknowledged. Many teachers who face critical illness or injury find it challenging to make ends meet.

Unions can help teachers manage out-of-pocket medical bills through supplemental health insurance products, such as cancer insurance, heart/stroke insurance, critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, accident insurance and disability insurance. Unlike major medical insurance offered by the state, supplemental health insurance benefits are paid directly to teachers, not doctors or hospitals. This means teachers can use the benefits for ANY purpose, including medical bills and living expenses.

Supplemental health insurance premiums are usually considered to be very affordable. These policies can also be enrolled at any time, so you don’t need to wait until the open enrollment period to offer your members this valuable coverage.

3. Provide benefits education and enrollment support
Did you know that 35% of employees report not fully understanding any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during their most recent open enrollment period?4 Insurance can be confusing even for teachers, who are among the nations’ most educated workers. 

Teachers’ unions can support members by bringing in experts to provide personal benefits education and enrollment support. When teachers are guided through the complexities of their benefits during one-on-one meetings with experts, they can make smarter decisions and choose products that can help protect their families from out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

4. Provide benefits advocacy
Teachers work long hours, often putting in overtime and taking on a second or third job. Meanwhile, dealing with medical bills and tasks can be extremely stressful and time-consuming for teachers in your union, but a benefits advocacy service can help. 

Benefits advocates can help teachers manage many healthcare tasks, such as shopping for healthcare, finding in-network providers, resolving claims issues and more. This year-round support can go a long way in supporting the healthcare needs of your members.

5. Call Optavise
Teachers are a backbone of our society and are the most important influence on the academic growth of future generations. Optavise is uniquely suited to help unions grow their memberships AND support their members with valuable services: Optavise is here to help teachers’ unions in their mission to support members through our valuable services:

  • Voluntary benefits, such as dental, vision and supplemental health insurance
  • Benefits education and guided enrollment for members 
  • Ongoing, year-round benefits advocacy
  • Sharing the union’s message with members.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and check out our demo.