The Electrical Worker online
March 2019

From the Officers
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Better Benefits, Lower Costs

Rising costs continue to make health care of one the toughest issues we face at the bargaining table.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the total annual cost of an employer-sponsored plan rose from $5,791 in 1998 to $18,142 in 2016. And it is only going to keep going up in the years to come.

For the IBEW, ensuring quality coverage for our members and their families has always been one of our top priorities as a union. But in these days of spiraling costs, many locals and signatory employers are finding it harder and harder to provide the health care their members and employees deserve.

That is why we started the IBEW/NECA Family Medical Care Plan.

First launched in 2006, the FMCP today covers close to 100,000 IBEW and NECA members, and that number keeps growing. In 2018, 16 new groups joined. And as of the first of the year, we've already recruited two more.

Altogether, we've got approximately 1,000 companies participating in the plan, including seven Fortune 500 companies.

One of the plan's biggest draws is that it provides comprehensive benefits at a lower cost. Since the end of 2007, healthcare prices across the nation have rocketed by 21.6 percent. But for Family Medical plan members, rates have gone up by less than 5 percent over that same time period.

The FMCP, which the IBEW runs in conjunction with the National Electrical Contractors Association, saves money because it operates without the need for profits. It also doesn't rely on advertising or have extensive overhead like most for-profit insurers do.

We also save money through innovative new programs that cuts costs while giving participants access to more convenient care; programs like Live Health Online. (See our story, "Same Care, Less Time and Money," in this issue)

With the Live Health Online app, Family Medical Care plan members can videoconference with a licensed doctor in just minutes. They'll answer your questions and even write you a prescription, all from your own home, using your own phone or any smart phone device.

This is not only convenient for our members. Since we started Live Health Online, we've saved nearly $90,000 in just the first few months because a videochat is a lot cheaper than an in-person appointment or a trip to the emergency room.

FMCP members can download it for free either at the app store or Google. They can also go to

For those locals who are not part of the Family Medical Care plan, I would strongly recommend checking it out. It is a great tool to help meet our obligation to provide comprehensive health care at a competitive rate.

Feel free to contact me and my office at any time for more information on how the FMCP can work for your members. My door is always open when it comes to helping make your jobs easier.


Also: Stephenson: We Stood Up Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer