Stakeholders Tackle Big Health Care Challenges

By James McCarthy
August 18, 2015

As one of the state’s largest private employers, Bath Iron Works could be described as a rather large “canary in the coal mine” of Maine’s health care system. Like other Maine employers, both large and small, it faces significant challenges as it tries to manage its health care costs in a more suitable and meaningful way.

Owned by General Dynamics, the Bath shipyard is self insured and covers about 5,000 employees with an additional 7,000 covered dependents. Health care is the shipyard’s single-most-expensive overhead cost, says Michelle Probert, BIW’s manager of integrated health services. And the unshakeable reality of the extremely competitive shipbuilding markets that BIW competes in – typically against southern shipyards with lower wages and generally lower electricity and heating costs – is that overhead costs matter a whole lot when contract awards are often decided by differences of pennies on the dollar.

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