Thursday, June 12, 2008

Freelancers Unite! A way to get health insurance and a voice

If, like me, you've worked as a freelance writer (or coder, developer, editor, consultant, etc.), then you know the pain of trying to get affordable health insurance for yourself and your family, of trying to get paid on time, and generally trying to get the respect you deserve [to say "America runs on freelance labor" would not be an exaggeration].

Now there's an organization that is uniting freelancers to get action on some of these items, most notably health insurance. It's called the Freelancers Union and actually has been around since 1995 when Sara Horowitz, a former labor lawyer, founded Working Today. This was renamed Freelancers Union in 2003 to better reflect its expanded role, which includes lobbying on issues of concern to freelancers (the union received 501(c)4 status in 2007). The original focus was to serve freelancers in New York City but the group is now on a national membership drive. The timing could not be better, with a lot of people being laid off from salaried jobs and rates for individual health insurance is now higher than house payments in many states.

That's right, according to the Census Bureau, the median monthly housing cost was below $1,200 in 20 states in 2006 and $1,200 which the monthly premium we were paying for basic husband/wife BlueCross coverage, no dental, no optical, limited hospital benefits, with a large deductible and hefty copays; that was until we dropped our coverage because we couldn't afford it, which is not unusual for many baby boomers who are now in the health insurance 'dead zone' i.e. too young for Medicare but old enough to have acquired a few health problems and thus really hammered by rising premiums.)

Checking over the web site it appears that Freelancers Union's health insurance rates are about half those for individual plans. Definitely worth checking out if you freelance.

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