Some of you have asked Freelancers Union to offer the Empire POS Direct plan, or a similar plan, in 2009.  Though I know this isn’t the answer you want to hear, I’m going to give it to you straight.  We will no longer offer that plan.  Let me explain why. The Empire POS plan was unsustainable. After looking at the data, our actuaries predicted an unacceptable premium increase for that plan. I say unacceptable, rather than just unpleasant or unfortunate, because in order to keep our plans solvent, we can’t raise premiums too high. A faulty plan can lead to an “adverse selection death spiral”, where premiums rise drastically year after year, forcing even more members out of the plan. To protect the solvency of our group, the Empire POS plan had to change, whether we stayed with Empire or moved to FIC. We did not negotiate with Empire this year, because we were launching FIC, a decision we made three years ago to protect the long-term sustainability of our group. The fact that the other four plans stayed largely the same, however, should demonstrate that the problem was with the plan, not the insurance provider. I know this explanation can’t ease the personal anxiety many of you on the Empire POS plan feel in the face of these changes. Although the 2009 plans aren’t going to change, I can pledge to you that I will listen to your opinions on how to improve plans going forward, and I will do everything in my power to make sure FIC offers the best, most affordable coverage for Freelancers Union members possible.