Freelancer's Union Insurance it good?
March 29, 2010 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Anyone use Freelancer's Union insurance?

I found some indirect info on Meta about this topic in older posts, but with so many mixed reviews. I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with them, good or bad? Thanks.
posted by Liquidwolf to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I use them in NYC.

Until a couple of years ago, coverage was through HIP. It was surprisingly cheap, the network was decent, and I was really satisfied.

Two years ago, they decided that they were going to switch to Blue Cross instead. It was more expensive, with arguably better coverage. But they handled the switch really badly, announcing it not long before it came into effect, and generally annoying everyone who had to make a decision quickly with confusing information. After the dust settled, I was mildly satisfied.

A year ago, they decided to start their own insurance company, and put everyone through the same hassle again only 12 months later. This time the plans were more expensive while the coverage was substantially worse (much higher deductibles, caps, very high percentage-based copays for expensive procedures). I am no longer satisfied with them, and I dread to see what happens next.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:35 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

very high percentage-based copays for expensive procedures

To be precise: for in-network medical procedures on their most expensive individual plan, which costs $500/month, there's a $1500 deductible, plus 20% coinsurance with an out-of-pocket maximum of $6000 per year.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:49 AM on March 29, 2010

I am a writer and tech developer who has carried Freelancers Union health insurance for several years. Haven't put their insurance to any major tests (thankfully), aside from monthly meds and occasional checkups. Agree with Combustible Edison's comments about how the insurance has changed.

They bill well in advance, especially at the beginning of the year, which means you need to cough up the dough early to keep your coverage for a future month. Can be tricky when cash flow is tight.

The 2010 plans are stingier than the year prior, at least in respects I pay attention to, like rx coverage. Yet, they also cost more.

I hate to the the guy who jumps to post about an anecdotal customer service complaint, but here I am: in December 2009 we could change our 2010 plan during the "open enrollment" period. Noticing that the plan I was in was going up in price, and dropping rx coverage I actually used, I elected to downgrade to a cheaper plan to offset the out-of-pocket rx cost.

After changing the plan on their web site, I received an automated email stating that I'd made my selection. This email did NOT state what this selection actually was. Shortly after they sent out automated reminders about the open enrollment period nearing its end. I logged back in to verify my downgraded selection. For some reason this again triggered an automated email that my selection has been made.

Come 2010, the invoice reflects my old plan rather than my new selection. Several exchanges with Freelancers Union followed, the upshot of which is that they refuse to acknowledge that I changed my plan selection. They demanded proof via the e-mails their system sent me, but their automated messages never specified what choice you actually made. So it appears I'm stuck with the higher-priced plan through this year.

For many freelancers like myself, Freelancers Union is still one of the better, if not the best, option (at least until the new health care bill potentially opens up new options). Still, it is not without its warts.
posted by thebordella at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2010

Response by poster: That sounds bad. I live in NYC too.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:34 AM on March 29, 2010

I've been on it too and yeah, HIP was better but I still find it to be the best option available now in NY for a freelancer. the doctors who are in network with Blue Cross have all been great. The thing that bothers me is the "coinsurance" for hospitals-- I'm on the PPO with slightly less premiums but a 20% coinsurance for hospitals up to $6000 out of pocket. (The higher premium one gives you 15% coinsurance).

So, I've been doing fertility treatment (IVF isn't covered) but what's been killing me is the "facility fee" for walking in the door of a hospital. Here's an example:

I needed a procedure that was covered before I could start the IVF. Everything was pretty much covered with minimal additional payment ($50 here, $100 there for anesthesia, that kind of thing) *except* for the facility fee. That was $6000-7000!!!! And no one told me that this fee existed before I had the operation, the bill just arrived six months later.

Blue Cross covered all but $2000 last year--and I was able to get the hospital to let me pay "only" $700 because they hadn't told me about the fee in advance, but I couldn't get them to negotiate when I had to have the same operation done again this year.

So, this time, same hospital, same procedure, I budgeted $2000 for the damn thing. But no. this time it was $3000 even though the fee the hospital charged to Blue Cross was actually a few hundred *lower* than it had been last year!!!! And they wouldn't budge.

I'm now terrified that if I actually give birth or something there will be some random several thousand dollar charge I'll be stuck with because I haven't paid $6000 out of pocket.

So, if you just go to doctors and have outpatient procedures not in hospitals (the first time was especially weird because the procedure I had can be done in a doctor's office but my doctor's office happens to be in the hospital), you're likely fine. But watch out for facility fees if you ever need a hospital.
posted by Maias at 4:33 PM on March 29, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the tips. We're having a baby this year and my wife has Blue Cross, but I have nothing so far after getting dropped by HIP Medicaid. So it doesn't sound like getting the Freelancer's Union family plan would be smart will all the baby doctor and hospital business, but maybe for just me it'll the best option.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:52 PM on March 29, 2010

I don't know what kind of work you do but I would suggest looking at the freelancer's insurance available through Media Bistro. You have to be a MB member and yes that costs money, but aside from proving that I didn't have health insurance (and they really, really put me through hoops verifying my employment history), there wasn't the draconian procedure I went through and FAILED with Freelancer's Union (who were also total dicks about it along the way - not because I didn't qualify but because they couldn't just be professional about explaining it and sending a polite form letter that I didn't meet the criteria because of factor X, Y, Z).

Do you not qualify for any Healthy NY options?
posted by micawber at 8:03 PM on March 29, 2010

The thing that bothers me is the "coinsurance" for hospitals-- I'm on the PPO with slightly less premiums but a 20% coinsurance for hospitals up to $6000 out of pocket. (The higher premium one gives you 15% coinsurance).

20%/$6000 is the PPO1 coinsurance for 2010, the PPO2 coinsurance is 25%/$14000.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:06 PM on March 29, 2010

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