After many false starts and frustrations, we have reached an agreement with a broker who will help members of the Guild Freelancers unit secure discounted health insurance. The program is now in place and by early April everyone in the unit will receive an application via email.
To be clear, this will be individual — not group — insurance. California law does not permit associations to obtain group coverage unless members work for a common employer (Yes, we believe there are a few exceptions, but we’re not one). Because the coverage will be on an individual basis, the pre-existing condition nonsense still applies.
Here’s how it works: Our broker, Association Health Plans, or AHP, will add our group to a very large risk pool made up of other groups. Armed with these high numbers, AHP then negotiates for the best possible rates with major providers, including
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- United HealthCare
Unfortunately, Kaiser is not an option at this time.
We have talked to a number of groups that contract with AHP and they report discounts of 20 percent or more on coverage. AHP will also help members who have problems with the provider.
AHP (with supervision by unit officers) will be preparing marketing materials outlining the benefit, and explaining how to start the process of obtaining coverage. Those materials will be sent to everyone in the Unit. But only members in good standing will be eligible to participate, so please make sure your dues are up to date. (Click here for a member application.)
Meanwhile, our existing dental and vision coverage is still in place, and being used to great effect by members. This will not change. Unlike many other insurers, ours did not raise our rates in the new year. We are now exploring other types of coverage, such as long-term care and liability insurance, with AHP.
We are excited about the new health care benefit, and urge everyone to examine the materials closely. Spread the word to friends and colleagues!
Bill Snyder is the assistant unit chair of the Guild freelancers. Rebecca Rosen Lum is the unit chair.