The Freelancers Union—whose ranks include non-staff writers and photographers—issued another sincere apology this afternoon via email for badly-communicated changes to member insurance earlier this month. "The past six weeks have been some of the toughest in Freelancers Union's history," it reads. Funny, union members were just saying the same thing about the last six weeks of their lives! Email after the jump.
————— Forwarded message —————
From: Freelancers Union
Date: Jan 15, 2008 2:00 PM
Subject: A message from Executive Director Sara Horowitz
Dear Freelancers Union members,
I am truly sorry for the anxiety, frustration, and inconvenience that we caused many of you during the transition to Empire BlueCross BlueShield. We can't undo the mistakes of the last few weeks, but I want you to know that we are taking a hard look at the decisions we made, and are taking proactive steps to make sure this never happens again.
The past six weeks have been some of the toughest in Freelancers Union's history. We announced the switch from HIP to Empire at the beginning of December, giving you only the standard open enrollment period to make much bigger decisions than usual. Shortly thereafter, our phone systems failed, resulting in dropped calls and unacceptably long hold times. Emails also went unanswered for far too long. On January 1, some members failed to appear in Empire's computer system, and so for several days, some of you thought that you didn't have insurance coverage. It took too long for us to remedy that situation, and too long to get everyone's dependents into the system, as well. For all this, I and the rest of the Freelancers Union staff are deeply sorry.
While I can't guarantee that we'll never make another mistake, I'm committed to making sure that the mistakes we made will never happen again. We're upgrading our phone system, so that in the future, high call volumes won't cause a meltdown. We're also putting in place additional customer service, so that when we have open enrollment next year (or any other big event), we'll have more people to help members. In addition to the systems upgrades, we're also working to increase transparency and open up additional lines of communication with you, our members.
I don't want to offer you excuses. I do, however, want to be transparent about why we switched insurance carriers this year. We should have made all these things clear from the outset. HIP quoted us significant premium increases for 2008, and Empire offered the opportunity to get more—a bigger, better network of providers and hospitals—for less money. Ideally, we'd have liked to have told you months ago about the switch to Empire. Unfortunately, it was only finalized in November. It was only after we'd been offered next year's rates from HIP—which happens in the late fall—that we knew we'd be getting a better deal from Empire.
I can't tell you how important your feedback has been during this process, even when it's been hard for us hear. I hope you'll continue to keep us accountable, and let us know when things are going well or poorly. As always, Member Services ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is here to answer your immediate questions, help with any insurance issues, and take suggestions about how we can do better. And you can keep in touch with me personally using email@example.com.
Best, Sara Horowitz