In building FIC, we incorporated the most successful labor strategies, such as mutual insurance, cooperatives, and labor unions, to direct our vision of pooling economic power to provide long-term sustainability and improving strength. We have created FIC to bring our members together in solidarity to collectively pool our economic power and our financial risk. In building a group based on solidarity, we focused on having plans that would cover freelancers across age, health status, and income.  We looked at all groups together to make sure that the plans can be counted on in the long-term. We employed a team of experts to monitor these plans with a particular focus on viability, affordability, and comprehensiveness. Unfortunately, we exist in an economy where prices for hospitals, doctors, and drugs are rising each year.  This year we managed to adjust the plans to keep the designs comparable for all but the current Empire POS Direct plan, which was changed to the FIC PPO 1 plan. Now, I want to focus on the FIC PPO 1 plan.  Almost all of the blog posts and concerns raised in member chatter are focused here.  It makes sense because this plan went up in price the most. Commercial insurers base prices on not only regional trends in health inflation, but also plan utilization.  We know this: plan utilization for some of our plans, especially Empire POS Direct, was high.  Therefore, our actuarial team predicted that the high utilization of plans was likely to trigger a restructuring of benefits or even a discontinuation of these plans by commercial insurers. We believe our most comprehensive plans would unfortunately not have been continued in their current form. Solidarity is all about joining a group and participating through thick and thin.  The point of insurance is that we don’t know what the future will bring, so we need to spread the risk. We created FIC PPO 1 to protect your access to the kind of coverage offered with Empire POS Direct.  Because of the high usage, we had to ask those in the Empire POS Direct to bear more of the cost to keep this ecosystem sustainable. Many of you have asked for comparisons between FIC 2009 plans and what BCBS would have offered. As much as we’d like to provide these, we can’t. Neither Empire nor PerfectHealth would have been able to provide us with costs for our current plans for 2009 without negotiations and analysis of plan utilization through at least Q3 of 2008. I know these changes hurt.  Episodic income without a safety net is always scary, and in these economic times it’s even worse.  Please know I am listening and continually strategizing about getting you the care you need. Please continue to visit our blog page as we post more information and address your questions and concerns.