This week working people gained ground in the battle for healthcare cost transparency when Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 546 into law on Sunday. The new law requires health insurance companies that sell to large purchasers, such as big employers and Union Health & Welfare Funds, to disclose the underlying data used to determine rate increases.
In his spring Secretary-Treasurer’s report, 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn wrote about the legislation: “The goal of this improved transparency is to allow for a better understanding of what is driving costs and to improve our bargaining effectiveness with insurance companies.”
The new law, which was sponsored by State Senator Mark Leno and co-sponsored by the Teamsters, also compels insurance companies to hold annual public meetings to allow for workers and employers to provide commentary on rates, cost drivers, cost containment, and quality improvement.
Teamsters 856 represents members at more than 200 employers in diverse industries in both the private and public sector and fighting the shifting of healthcare costs is on top of the bargaining priority list in virtually all contract negotiations.
“Fighting back against unmitigated healthcare premium increases is of the utmost importance,” said Finn. “Not only do skyrocketing health insurance costs lead to employers trying to push for higher employee share of monthly premiums, but also, as more dollars are allocated to healthcare costs, it puts downward pressure on wages.”