We've been getting lots of angry e-mails from various freelancers with coverage in the Freelancers Union, which I mainly ignored until I realized it would negatively affect me, too. The oft-reported insurance provider for the creative underclass is—wtf—starting their own insurance company called the Freelancers Insurance Company. And members have no choice but to join it! The takeaway: if my shrink isn't in the new "Freelancers Insurance Company" network's koverage, no amount of generic Klonopin will be able to kwell my krazy!First of all, let's cut the bullshit with the name and starry-eyed, fake labor-organizing rhetoric of their ads—Freelancers Union—and call it what it is: a healthcare company. Freelancers aren't going on strike or picketing as part of the Freelancers Union—they're joining it for the health plan, so that their teeth won't fall out of their head—which would limit future job opportunities. And guess what: just like other healthcare companies, the Freelancers "Union" mostly sucks! Past practice indicates that the Freelancers Union has trouble simply administering enrollments for their outside plans, making this change appear even more worrisome. In fact, they pulled almost the exact same stunt last year, complete with a cutely-worded memo: ""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." (This was their way of announcing that coverage under their current health plan, HIP, would end December 31 of 2007 in favor of more expensive coverage under Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.) So they've done it again this year—and of course, the new FIC plans are even more expensive, with reduced benefits. The expense increase isn't entirely their fault—but the bait-and-switch is. Why bother joining the Freelancers Union if they're going to pull the rug out from under you every year? One freelancer complained to us, "Problem is, the new plans offer considerably fewer benefits and significantly higher costs, but were presented as a fait accompli, complete with a bunch of solidarity rhetoric. With just a few weeks to decide, many FU members feel that their safety nets have been ripped out from under them." Members are blogging angrily here and here! Wrote another tipster, "Can a PPO really be called a PPO without OON coverage?" We have no idea, but you know people are getting desperate when they start writing things like, "I'm going to check out Mediabistro's insurance plans."
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