With fall now in full swing, the annual open enrollment period for Freelancers Insurance Company health insurance is just around the corner. Open enrollment is the only time of year that you can change health insurance plans or add family members to your plan without a qualifying event like a birth or marriage. Open enrollment is also when FIC shares plans and premium rates for the coming year. FIC is waiting for the New York State Insurance Department to approve plans and rates for 2011. You’ll get an email as soon as the new plans are approved, then open enrollment will begin. In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on how FIC fits into the larger healthcare system. When determining the plans and rates for 2011, FIC took into account a number of factors that impact health plans. The first was the new federal health care reform legislation, which will provide enrollees more favorable coverage for preventive services. FIC also had to account for the rising health care costs providers are charging across the United States, which you've all probably read about in the news over the past year. FIC also assessed how members are using benefits, and members’ feedback on what was and wasn’t working with the plans. This was all to ensure that you can continue to receive the best possible benefits, both this year and in the future. The reality of rising healthcare costs means that FIC’s unique structure is even more important. FIC is wholly-owned by Freelancers Union, so there are no shareholders or Board members jacking up costs and reducing benefits in order to make a profit. FIC was started with the sole purpose of providing our members with stable insurance for the long-term—sustainable coverage that can go with you wherever or however you work. We remain committed to that mission by looking for new ways to increase efficiency, improve services, and keep your out-of-pocket medical costs as low as possible. I understand that open enrollment can be stressful, so please know that we will keep you updated about the exact open enrollment dates, instructions, plans changes, and rates. We will also hold a series of webinars during open enrollment to answer all of your questions about the 2011 plans and insurance coverage in general. We had a fantastic turnout for the webinars last year, and as we prepare for this year we’d love to know what topics you’d like to learn more about in the webinars. I welcome you to leave suggestions and questions about what you’d like us to cover in the comments here on the blog or you can email me directly at sara@freelancersunion.org. In the face of rising healthcare costs and dwindling benefits, we are proud that we have been able to maintain access to quality coverage for freelancers at the lowest possible rates. We look forward to continuing to provide that, both now, and 20 years from now.