- Director Dispatches, Advocacy
This Week, Freelancers' Lives Changed
Freelancers Union has been working for over a decade on behalf of America’s 42 million independent workers to bring them the kind of social safety net and peace of mind that traditional employees often take for granted. Most important among these was always access to quality, affordable health care. That’s why we’re thrilled that Congress has taken a significant step towards that goal by extending coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. The improvements Congress is making in terms of oversight and consumer protections should lead to better, more affordable care. This historic bill will provide a basic safety net for lower-income freelancers. Subsidies for those earning below $43,320 may finally bring health care within reach for many, and as freelancers with episodic incomes well know, this peace of mind is of great value. Even as we celebrate, I am concerned about the middle-class self-employed—those earning even a dollar more than the $43,320 subsidy cutoff. Under the current plan, they won’t qualify for subsidies, and without an employer’s insurance plan to rely on, they’ll continue to be at a disadvantage. Big companies can still negotiate group plans for their employees, but independent workers will get less for their dollars. The exchange may pool people together, but this isn’t the same as forming a group. Freelancers Union has provided portable, group-rate benefits to New York’s independent workers since 2001. By acting like a large employer or union health plan, we bring these benefits within reach for 22,000 freelancers, just a small fraction of America’s 42-million person independent workforce. We are committed to working with Congress and President Obama to expand this common sense solution across the country for the middle class self-employed. While we’re taking a moment to breathe deeply and relish this victory—an incredible step toward mending America’s social safety net—our policy team is also going through the bill with a careful eye to how it will affect our members, both with and without insurance through FIC. I’ll be sharing this information in my next post, so please share any questions or concerns you have below. Sara Horowitz is the founder and Executive Director of Freelancers Union.