Streams

The Self-Insured

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sara Horowitz, executive director of Working Today Freelancer's Union, talks about what the self-employed need from health care reform.

Guests:

Sara Horowitz

Comments [40]

MARK R from pawling ny

MY PARTNER AND i HAVE FREELANCERS INSURANCE... I AM THE PRIMARY PERSON AND AM ALLOWED TO ADD MY PARTNER.... WE HAVE JUMPED THRU HOOPS TO PROVE WE ARE LONG TERM PARTNERS... we PROVIDED THE NY DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP DOCUMENT THEY REQUIRE BUT THEY ARE SO LARGE THE office IN BROOKLYN DOESNT COMMUNICATE WITH THE office IN FLA( AND THE BILLS FOR PAYMENT TO DR' S COME FROM SEATTLE.... ITS LIKE REG INSURANCE COMPANIES IN THAT ITS TOO BIG TO HANDLE THINGS EFFICIENTLY AND COMMUNICATION SIS TERRIBLE... MISTAKES IN ACKNOWLEDGING RECEIPT OF DOCUMENTS IVE SENT 3 TIMES , THREATENED TO TERMINATE MT PARTNERS INSURANCE THOUGH WE HAD COMPLIED VIA MAIL, EMAIL, AND FAX--- FINALLY HAD TO SEND 2 RETURN RECEIPT REQUEST ... WHEN THEY RECEIVED THEM THEY STARTED DENYING ( ACTUALLY REVERSING PREVIOUS CLAIMS THEY HAD ALREADY pAID) out of spite, I admire Sarah Horowitz and what she is trying to d but as ceo she should be aware there is NOONE to complain to re customer service... the lackeys that answer they phone could care less about your problem and its always " your fault" .. its very frustrating.... and for the privilege of having their ins its 10,000 a year... i am so ready for single payer ... this is NOT the solution.

Apr. 06 2013 11:42 PM
Anne from Brooklyn

I have freelancers union insurance and had a minor outpatient procedure. My "In Network" costs were over $2500! Repeat "In Network"!! The coverage is horrible and their use of the term "In Network" is a joke! Their plan is unacceptable. Anyone with a complaint about this plan should contact the New York State Attorney General's Healthcare Help Line at 1-800-428-9071

Aug. 19 2009 04:01 PM
Anne from Brooklyn

I have freelancers union insurance and had a minor outpatient procedure. My "In Network" costs were over $2500! Repeat "In Network"!! The coverage is horrible and their use of the term "In Network" is a joke! Their plan is unacceptable. Anyone with a complaint about this plan should contact the New York State Attorney General's Healthcare Help Line at 1-800-428-9071

Aug. 19 2009 04:01 PM
db from nyc

Sara Horowitz is on the board and founder of a for-profit insurance company, Freelancers Insurance Company!!!

https://www.freelancersinsuranceco.com/fic/faq/index.html#2

Whose interest does she represent???!!!

Of course she's not interested in single payer or gov. option!

GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Aug. 19 2009 03:57 PM
jonny goldstein from Philadelphia

What Freelancers need is single payer health care.

Aug. 19 2009 01:51 PM
Rudy from Queens

Correcting a major typo in the above post:

They (Freelancer's Union) are definitely NOT supportive of preventive care.

Aug. 19 2009 12:46 PM
Rudy from Queens

I checked FU's plans awhile back, and the only "affordable" one was catastrophic with a $10K deductible. They are definitely supportive of preventive care. Insurance used to be a wager based on actuarial odds for a large pool of insured. Today insurance companies see each customer as a profit center. If you're not a sure thing, they don't want you. Mandatory private coverage without severe price controls and regulation (which won't happen) would be simply a windfall to the insurance companies. That is why a public plan is essential.

Historical note: Our country's healthcare system was not always based on employer-based health insurance. Employer plans emerged during WWII, when wages were frozen and the insurance benefit became a way of attracting and keeping workers. In other words, the whole concept is based on an aberration.

Aug. 19 2009 11:25 AM
Norman from Manhattan

BTW for those who can't afford insurance, there is or used to be a New York State program (which I think was funded with money from the tobacco settlement) that provided insurance at a substantial discount.

You might be able to find it on the New York State Health Department web site.

Aug. 19 2009 11:09 AM
Norman from Manhattan

I think it's bad journalism to interview somebody about an issue as important as health care and not ask about the question that was on top of every listener's mind -- single payer.

I'd like to see WNYC dump The Takeaway and run DemocracyNow.org in its place.

Aug. 19 2009 11:05 AM
Norman from Manhattan

Marcos,

You're right. Freelancers Union isn't legally a union. Union members don't elect their officers, and they don't have the same financial reporting requirements as unions.

The National Writers Union offers a lot of parallels. They weren't legally a union either, and therefore their president Jonathan Tasini refused to disclose the finances.

One of the insurance companies they contracted with turned out to be financially unstable and collapsed, leaving some NWU members with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills for things like cancer treatment.

Aug. 19 2009 11:00 AM
Kimberley from williamsburg, brooklyn

I have been a member of FU for 3 years. While it has afforded me the ability to have insurance, it hasn't been affordable for so-so coverage. I had BC/BS through them for the first two years and continued when they started FIC (which is really BC/BS) Unfortunately, the premiums have gone up $100.00 a month every year, with high co-pays and deductables. I have to call and argue for coverage just as often as before. The explanation of benefits is just as obtuse and I still get the feeling they really don't want to pay for things they say they cover. THIS CO-OP IS EXACTLY LIKE BC/BS. It needs just as much overhaul as traditional insurance. My family can barely afford out coverage but we don't have options as things stand. I am all for government intervention on prices, negotiation of prices and caps on premiums, in addition to assuring that everyone has access to health care because frankly we are always in that gap where we can't take advantage of subsidies and we can't quite afford what is offered.

Aug. 19 2009 10:57 AM
Norman from Manhattan

jawbone,

Are you kidd--

I mean no.

Aug. 19 2009 10:52 AM
Marcos Stinkleberg from Manhattan

Nice advertisement for the Freelancers Union! Right on top of your home page no less. They are your sponsor, no?

Once again, you managed to give Sarah Horowitz a free ad spot on your show. When are you going to offer a critical report on FU? Anyone who did the slightest bit of homework would know there is plenty to examine.

The Freelancer's Union is NOT a union. It is a for-profit insurance company hidden behind a poor excuse for an advocacy organization. If I up my pledge this year, will you flower me with praise on your airwaves?

Aug. 19 2009 10:51 AM
Norman from Manhattan

oil monkey,

My reaction exactly. It's a PR piece for Freelancers Union -- which is also a sponsor of WNYC, and used to run ads.

Aug. 19 2009 10:50 AM
jawbone from Parsippany, NJ

Hear, hear! Susan @ 23. Only solution.

Medicare for All...with a robust private option.

Health care is a right and a necessity. It must be universal and disconnected from any particular employer.

Aug. 19 2009 10:50 AM
jawbone from Parsippany, NJ

I came in late--was single payer even mentioned?

Aug. 19 2009 10:47 AM
jawbone from Parsippany, NJ

Sen. Jay Rockefeller has asked the GAO to study health cooperatives (of which there are only about 20-odd currently extant in the US, with two large ones being the only groups licensed) because he has found from his research that they have had a very difficult time surviving. There were quite a few during the 70's, but most went out of business or were eaten by the for-profit Big Insurers.

Universal health care, Medicare for All...with a robust private option is what will work.

Many freelancers have to move to other areas to take jobs; how will they be covered in CA when their co-op is, say, in Miami?

Medicare for All...everybody in, nobody out. Artists, actors, musicians, freelancers, unemployed, young, old, in between. Everyone covered wherever they are! What an amazing concept in our highly mobile nation!

Medicare for All...the bailout for the rest of us.

Aug. 19 2009 10:45 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

So if freelancing is the future for American workers, shouldn't health insurance be unhitched from the employer based model?

Aug. 19 2009 10:42 AM
Leo in NYC from Staten Island

Quick question for your guest:

Is anyone in Washington talking about changing the tax status for freelancers so that we don't get hit so hard with paying double the withholding?

Aug. 19 2009 10:42 AM
Julie Wochos from New York, NY

A practical question for Ms. Horowitz: the Freelancers Union includes only some freelancers when it comes to eligibility for health insurance (let's set aside, for the moment, whether the insurance available is worth having). I am a freelance translator, and do not qualify for health insurance under any of the professional categories of the FU. Working as a freelancer, any kind of freelancer, should be enough. Why is it not?

Aug. 19 2009 10:41 AM
Joanne from Westchester

I've been a freelancer for nearly 20 years, but at this point, I don't "qualify" for FU's health insurance. So I don't see them as a solution. I want either single payer options or at the very least a public plan. Sara Horowitz and FU clearly are not able to represent all freelancers; and having read many of the comments above, I don't think I want their representation!

Aug. 19 2009 10:41 AM
Valeen from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

I agree that the Freelancer's Union is a good idea, but in actuality, isn't that great. I am a small business owner who enrolled in their health insurance and after paying a ridiculous enrollment fee, was subjected to a $10,000 deductible, on top of a monthly fee. This meant that even though I was paying this monthly fee, I was forced to pay out of pocket for every doctor I visited. I've since canceled the insurance and am hoping that there will be an option for people who fall in between the cracks of the current system, such as myself.

Aug. 19 2009 10:41 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

What about those freelancer- and public in general- who can not afford co-op or private insurance? No health care plan for these people?

Aug. 19 2009 10:41 AM
oil monkey

Horowitz is talking a lot, but not saying very much. A lot of 'we need to focus on....' and 'what we need to think about is......' followed by nothing.

She obviously wants to maintain the insurance industry, propped up by the 'subsidies' she keeps mentioning.

Aug. 19 2009 10:40 AM
Leo in NYC from Staten Island

The reason that Dean and other progressives are against Co-ops is that they can't compete effectively against the big insurance companies and keep costs down significantly. Only a public option can do that.

Aug. 19 2009 10:38 AM
Mark from Qns.

Last time I looked at the health insurance options at freelancers union, the only one within my price range had a very high deductible. I don't know if that has changed in recent years, but it seems unlikely.

Aug. 19 2009 10:38 AM
Ishah Janssen-Faith from New York, NY

Can you ask her about the pre-existing condition clause attached to the freelancers union health care? There is one and I'm a member and got major coverage denied by it. It seems that she is saying that her health care isn't subscribing to that and I would like her to speak on that. Thank you.

Aug. 19 2009 10:37 AM
Norman from Manhattan

ASK HER FOR HER POSITION ON SINGLE PAYER!

Aug. 19 2009 10:37 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

All Americans should have healthcare insurance at an affordable cost. Nobody should be able to opt out if it is affordable--public, private or whatever.

Aug. 19 2009 10:37 AM
Norman from Manhattan

Pam MacEwan, exexcutive vice president of Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, said that it took them 62 years to build up 600,000 members, and their own network of doctors, hospitals and clinics.

She didn't think that others could build up cooperatives like that in less time.

Aug. 19 2009 10:36 AM
serena from manhattan

I started consulting this year and have been shocked and dismayed by how costly health insurance is for the self-employed here in NY State. To have the equivalent of the insurance that my former employer provided, I would need to pay over $1000/month (I am 41 yrs old and in the best of health). I am dreading the day when my COBRA runs out.

I have been pinning my hopes on single payer, or the lesser alternative of a public option, and am disappointed beyond words that we seem to be moving rapidly away from the latter. I investigated FU but in all honesty it didn't appear to be any better than any of the other (less than ideal) options out there. I simply cannot understand why we as a nation cannot move into the 21st century when it comes to health care.

Aug. 19 2009 10:36 AM
David

Why not just get the CEO of Aetna in there and ask their opinion on the public health option? You'll get the same answers.

Aug. 19 2009 10:35 AM
Norman from Manhattan

The proposal for the public option would limit premiums to 13% of the person's income, according to Waxman.

Aug. 19 2009 10:33 AM
Marilyn Batson from New Jersey

I thinks that the public option must remain in play. The insurance corporations are not going to stop raking in fat profits, after all they are not "Non-profits". The public plan will operate as a non-profit, so it should be able to offer customers a much better rate both for premiums and coverage. It has to be able to do this so that middle class people have an alternative to the status quo and don't have to spend 1/2 their income to purchase expensive health insurance then turn around and pay totally out of pocket for eye exams, glasses and all dental visits and procedures. I do not know how much longer I will be able to cover my husband & myself at the outrageous costs the insurance carriers are charging. Our family's economy nor the county's can continue supporting this industry's ever higher rate hikes. And since there is really no incentive for the health insurance industry to reform since there no place to go except them!
If all the underinsured and uninsured get placed into big insurance, they'll have a complete monopoly on health care! They do not want any competition, hence their fight against the public option.

Aug. 19 2009 10:27 AM
mike

This subject doesn't get enough attention. Freelancers generally have to pay their own insurance. Because of that, they are in the rare position of actually knowing what this stuff costs. My health insurance runs over 20K for a family of four, with no serious health conditions. Most people who think that the current system is OK don't realize how much this stuff costs because they are getting their insurance through their jobs. How can anybody afford this stuff?

How can employers afford to pay for their employees' health insurance? Why should they?

Aug. 19 2009 10:25 AM
Norman from Manhattan

This is from the Wikipedia entry for "Freelancers Union":

Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union, does not believe in a Canadian-style single-payer health care system, she said on WNYC's radio program, the Brian Lehrer show. [1] Individuals should be able to buy insurance through groups like the Freelancers Union that would give them bargaining power against insurance companies, she said. They should get assistance through vouchers or a refundable tax credit if they can't afford it.

Under the labor laws, the Freelancers Union can't engage in collective bargaining over wages or working conditions, said Horowitz. The entertainment unions can today, because they were grandfathered in. But collective bargaining was a "moment in history", she told Lehrer. Lehrer said that, judging by listener phone calls, the biggest problem freelancers had with the Freelancers Union was that they couldn't meet the Union's definition of freelancer, which requires that they work at least 20 hours a week in one of seven industries.

Aug. 19 2009 10:24 AM
jh from East Village

Sara Horowitz is not an appropriate source for examining the effects of health care reform on freelancers. She has spoken out against real health care reform in the past, and her actions in developing and selling substandard and overpriced health insurance through Freelancers Union underscore her lack of understanding of the complexity of the issue. Freelancer Union's membership numbers are grossly inflated, and this organization engaged in the worst type of bait-and-switch tactics in an effort to trap their members into enrolling in their badly run and badly designed health insurance.

Aug. 19 2009 10:13 AM
oil monkey

Please ask Ms. Horowitz if, now that the FU has morphed into an insurance company, the FIC is a member of any industry trade groups that are currently lobbying against a public option and/or a single payer system, or has spent any money in such lobbying efforts. I am a member of the FU and am dismayed at the direction the organization has taken, and particularly at the possibility that my membership dues may be used to lobby against my best interests.

Aug. 19 2009 10:09 AM
Hugh from Brooklyn

I've freelanced for over 20 years -- longer than Freelancers Union has been in existence. One thing we freelancers need is legal protection from con jobs like Freelancers Union. They impose as much paperwork as any insurer and charge nearly as much for one of the worst rated insurance providers in the state.

I do not personally know any freelancer who thinks FU (and think what else that 'FU' might mean) is worth the trouble.

Aug. 19 2009 10:08 AM
Norman from Manhattan

Questions for Sara Horowitz:

You favor health care co-ops, right?

Do you think the Democrats should insist on a public option?

Do you think single payer would be a better solution, and that we should try to use our political clout make it possible?

Aug. 19 2009 10:06 AM

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