Newsletter | Jul/Aug 2004

OWA Health Insurance
by Mimi Malayan

[portions taken from Janet Crane's letter to Health Plan Members]

Health Net, the health insurance provider for OWA, intends to drop our Association Health Plan coverage effective October 1, 2004, as they are terminating all of their association contracts with groups of less than 1000 members.

For over 30 years Janet Crane has been the main coordinator of this health plan, offering the self-employed and uninsured designers an option to securing health care. This option has been a wonderful benefit to OWA members, and the question now arises: What Do We Do?

Janet has been in regular contact with John and Anne Jakiemiec from JCG Insurance Services, our insurance agents. She has also met with and will continue to meet with the OWA steering committee. The first priority has been to find alternative coverage for our members. John and Anne are finding alternative small group and individual coverage options. Unfortunately, often there are costs increases which come into play. On an encouraging note, John has had discussions with a Small Group Purchasing Pool that is coming out with a Group Product. Also, other steering committee members are looking into other options: Kaiser, an association with the AIA health plan, an association with other small groups to create a membership exceeding 1000. Individual plans are also available to our health care users, but that can result in a loss of leverage or negotiating power when a problem arises with the health care provider.

The second priority is to continue negotiations with Health Net to continue coverage. This may include behind the scenes manipulation, ýbad-pressţ releases, and whatever tactics we come up with, short of a law suit. As a final resort, we have the option filing an injunction against Health Net, for violating there contract with us. The problem with an injunction is the commitment to a hard and costly legal battle, where we would probably gain an extension, but would still be left looking at alternative health plans in the future.

The OWA steering committee is meeting at the office of Freebairn-Smith & Crane on Tuesday, July 13th at 6:30pm. Please call a steering committee member if you wish to make a contribution to this meeting. We would like your input, insight, and energy.