Ford, UAW Launch Pilot Healthcare Program

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Ford Motor Co., the United Auto Workers and the union’s retiree healthcare trust will begin a two-year trial healthcare project on July 1 for active hourly workers and retirees in Michigan.

The program aims to cut medical costs and improve health by providing personalized care to employees with chronic illnesses.

Such diseases such account for 61% of healthcare expenses paid by Ford and the trust. They say much of that money goes to emergency care for patients who aren’t taking their medications or following doctor instructions.

Under the pilot plan, participants will be assigned a nurse, who will monitor their treatment, answer questions and coordinate care. The voluntary effort is expected to involve as many as 1,500 workers and retirees, who will be selected by their doctors.

The program is modeled on one at Boeing Co.—former employer of Ford CEO Alan Mulally—that reduced medical costs for participating workers by 17% after two years.

If Ford’s pilot is successful, the initiative could be rolled out to the company’s hourly workers in other regions. The UAW says it is discussing similar projects with Chrysler Group and General Motors for their active hourly employees.