UWF

United Welfare Fund, Benefits

UNITED WELFARE FUND–SECURITY DIVISION UPDATE

The United Welfare Fund-Security Division is a unique benefit that is only available to members of the USWU and its affiliates. Many of you have been participating in the Security Division for many years but may not have a solid understanding of what the fund is and how it works. What is most important about the fund is the manner in which we handle our investments. The Security Division has in excess of $347 million in assets and pays benefits of more than $34 million annually. With such a large fund, wise investment is absolutely critical.

The Security Division’s investment philosophy is to maintain the highest quality of investments it can, by investing in fixed income securities. These investments include U.S. Treasury securities and Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities that are 100% guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S Government, which makes them the safest vehicles in which to invest. By contrast, bank accounts and CDs are not backed by the US Government, and are only backed by the FDIC—and there are limits to the insurance the FDIC provides.

The Security Division adheres to a long-term investment approach that is meant to provide steady growth over the course of participants’ careers and give them peace of mind knowing that their account balances are stable and secure. It is the Trustees’ and my belief that our greatest responsibility to our participants is to protect their account balances and not put them at risk by subjecting them to the volatility and daily fluctuations of the markets or other investment vehicles.

We have intentionally avoided riskier investment options such as the stock market. When the stock market plummeted in 2008, the participants in the Security Division were all thanking the Trustees for investing in US Government Securities.

We did a fifteen (15) year study comparing the Dow Jones averages compared to the Security Division dividends: Dow Jones was 4.8% compared to the non-risk taking Security Division of 5.58%. 

Many other union-sponsored ERISA Funds have not been as cautious and are now paying dearly for their poor choices. If you follow the news, you will hear regularly of union-sponsored benefit funds cutting benefits anywhere from 25% to 50% because of risky investments gone bad in recent years. We are proud to say we continue to provide positive dividends. 

No one can predict the future, but we all know from past history that interest rates fluctuate over time. We also know that interest rates will begin to rise again soon. Your Security Division dividends rise and fall with interest rates. Today, with artificially lower interest rates, the dividends have been lower. We hope that in the December meeting of the Federal Reserve, they will raise the interest rate, which will thereby have a positive effect on future Security Division dividends.

As always, we will continue to invest in safe investments so that we can guarantee that your Security Division balance is there for you when you retire.

United Welfare Fund, USWU President's Message

USWU President’s Message

“That’s what you have insurance for...”

“Don’t worry, my insurance will pay for it...”

How often have we heard or even used one of these statements? But, do you realize that the costs of health care impact you even if your insurance covers it? All the costs paid for medical claims are paid from the premiums that employers and members pay. When costs rise, premiums rise. It’s that simple. And, when costs go up, employee contributions towards premiums usually increase too. Even if the employer pays increases in premiums, that leaves less money on the table during negotiations for wage increases. No matter how you look at it, medical costs impact you. In addition to the out-of -pocket costs you pay, the amounts paid by your insurance still impact your paycheck. Thus, it’s important to be a smart health care consumer to keep costs down. 

 

WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR OUT-OF-POCKET MEDICAL COSTS:

  • Save on medications – purchase generic, mail order, and formulary

  • Talk to your doctor about your benefit plan to make sure services are in-network

  • Use in-network doctors and facilities

  • Grab the phone before the car keys: Can you be seen by your primary care provider for this health care need? Is a Specialist warranted, or is Urgent Care or Emergency Room needed?

  • Go to the most appropriate and cost-effective place for your condition (log onto www.anthem.com for cost comparisons and quality rankings of providers/facilities)

  • Save money on prescriptions by visiting Medtipsterfree.com. This site will help you find generic drugs for a lower co-pay or even zero co-pay.

  • Read your medical bill and explanation of benefit forms (EOBs)

 

REVIEW YOUR HEALTH CARE BILLS

By reviewing your health care bills, you will know what health care actually costs and could prevent your insurance plan from paying more than is necessary. Billing of health care services is very complex. For example, today, there are more than 14,000 procedure codes for physician services. Not to mention the numerous health conditions that could be diagnosed. Providers are human and billing errors do happen. Here are some things you should look for when you receive a bill or Explanation of Benefit (EOB) from your insurance company.

  • Did you receive all of the services listed on the bill?

  • Are they in the correct amounts or dosages?

  • Even though you might only be responsible for a copayment or small percentage, note the total cost of care and how much your insurance paid.

  • Avoid duplication and actively participate in your care; know what services you received and why they were done

  • For some services you may receive bills from providers whom you never see face to face – such as radiologists

  • When your doctor orders blood work, ask to have the test results shared with all of your doctors (any specialists you regularly see) to avoid double testing. You should also keep a copy of your lab results for yourself so you have the information in case you see a new doctor or need to go to a walk in medical center. 

  • Anytime you see a discrepancy or a questionable charge, contact the United Welfare Fund at 718-658-4848

 

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE

Consumers need to play a key role in all aspects of health care delivery. Remember that money you save the Fund in unnecessary charges will help hold down health care costs – including costs you pay in the form of premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Learning how to use health care services helps to maximize your benefits. Leading a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk for the leading causes of preventable death. Being a wise health care consumer is an important choice in leading a long and healthy life.