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Some Rutgers unionized, part-time employees gain primary care coverage

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R-Health offers a full range of comprehensive primary care services and covers wellness and urgent care, chronic disease management and care coordination.
R-Health offers a full range of comprehensive primary care services and covers wellness and urgent care, chronic disease management and care coordination. - ()

Some part-time, unionized employees at Rutgers University were granted access April 19 to R-Health Direct Care, a boutique-style primary care network offered at a discounted rate.

Some part-time faculty members can now buy into this health care and see a direct primary care doctor.

Full-time Rutgers employees are already receiving R-Health Direct Care coverage through a state program if they opt in for it.

R-Health offers a full range of comprehensive primary care services and covers wellness and urgent care, chronic disease management and care coordination. The health care option carries no co-pay. It is also being offered to public employee adjuncts.

The labor union announced the offering during a town hall meeting on April 19 that included a local R-Health physician from its New Brunswick headquarters, who conducted blood pressure screenings.

The partnership with R-Health was launched by the part-time faculty union at Rutgers. The university now has 3,000 part-time faculty members.

R-Health marketing director Amber van Niekerk said this is a step in the direction of providing access to health care for their members.

“We are not health insurance,” she said. “We believe that primary care is the foundation of good health care. There is still a need for health insurance.”

R-Health is already available to most state of New Jersey full-time employees.

Most health care services are based on pay for service.  By contrast, R-Health is a flat monthly membership for value-based health care delivery.

“Our model has no copay,” van Niekerk said. “We care for our patients whenever and wherever they need it.”

Teresa Politano, the Rutgers president of the part-time faculty chapter of the AAUP-AFT at Rutgers, said this is separate from unions asking Rutgers administration for new contracts as part of the collective bargaining process.

“As part-time employees we do not receive benefits,” Politano said. “Rutgers has said it is not possible to offer health care to part-timers because it is too expensive and complicated. Our argument is there should be a solution toward health care. Rutgers has said it is all or nothing. We have argued that there are alternatives in the middle. It does not rely on Rutgers. It illustrates that there are creative options.”

Rutgers has 6,500 part-time employees who do not receive health insurance.

“We took the initiative and found a terrific solution,” Politano said. “We intend to go to table and say we’ve found an option. Let’s move forward from there.”

The union has negotiated this benefit on behalf of its members in an effort to find a progressive health care solution for its members. 

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David Hutter

David Hutter


David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at dhutter@njbiz.com.

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