Freelancers Union Health Benefits SNAFU Has Members Fuming

What's this? Members of the Freelancers Union are up in arms over badly-executed changes to their health insurance benefits! Oh, the irony! On November 30, the union, which says it "represents the needs and concerns of America's growing independent workforce," sent a memo out to its 15,000 New York metropolitan-area members who receive health insurance through the organization, announcing that coverage under their current health plan, HIP, would end December 31 in favor of more expensive coverage under Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. "If you want to wake up with insurance on New Year's Day, you have to let us know which of the plans from Empire or PerfectHealth you want," the announcement read. We're hearing that, despite having completed all the paperwork required for the union-wide switch, plenty of freelancers are indeed waking up this morning to an uninsured New Year! "FU dropped the ball on this," one union member complains on the chat section of the organization's site.

"My wife has doctor's appointments today and I have been trying to get our new insurance ID numbers since the new cards have not been sent," another freelancer told us. "Empire doesn't have my SS# on file and my bank has yet to withdraw the new amount for my bill. I AM NOT EVEN SURE IF I'M INSURED AT ALL!!!" Freelancers are complaining that getting through over the phone to FU (yeah, we know, but nah—too easy) is near impossible. Automatic bank payments meant to go toward health plan deductibles have yet to be processed by FU—the union explained the tardiness to at least one freelancer who repeated it on the nonprofit's site: "They said they are backed up b/c of the holiday." Oh! Well then, we'll just tell that freelancer in labor over there to hold it till you guys get caught up, 'kay? People flooding Empire this morning with calls are being told they don't exist in the HMO's system and that information from only a fraction of union members who signed up to switch health plans has been sent over by the union. According to the November memo, co-pays under Empire are higher across the board than they were under previous provider HIP. Know anything else? Drop me a line.