The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

January 29, 2013

Don't have health insurance? Start your own insurance company

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Horowitz began by forming the nonprofit Freelancers Union in 2003. It shared information, nurtured freelancer networking, and began the process of building solidarity. But she quickly saw that, for independent contractors who don't get coverage through their employers, obtaining affordable health insurance was the truly pressing issue.

Her first instinct was to deal with existing insurance companies to get her group a better rate. But at a certain point she decided the plans that were already out there didn't fit freelancers' needs and didn't account for their unique circumstances. So why not invent an insurance company of her own? "It was an audacious idea," chuckles Nancy Barrand of the Robert Woods Johnson foundation, which helped provide funding to get Horowitz's project off the ground. "People don't just start insurance companies in this day and age. She had to raise $10 million in reserves to qualify for an insurance license in New York. But she'd been negotiating with insurance companies, she knew the market, she'd seen the data on costs and benefits, and she realized, 'I can make it work better. I can be more efficient. I can do it myself.' "

The Freelancers Insurance Company launched in New York in 2008. It is wholly owned by the Freelancers Union and has no individual shareholders. In its first year, FIC lost money and had to raise rates. But by its second year, it was profitable. It has been profitable ever since. At a time when other insurance providers are seeking and winning double-digit rate increases, FIC has managed to freeze its premiums for the coming year. (Disclosure: I signed on for FIC health coverage last year. So far, so good.)

Sitting at her desk in a low-profile office in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood, Horowitz described to me a three-step process for turning a notion into a reality. It boils down to: 1) Find the North Star that guides your mission. 2) Practice poking holes in your business model until you're certain it will actually work. 3) Find people who understand the concept of loyalty.

Text Only
Top News
  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (with VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton Community School District 2013-2014 Wages

    Clinton Community School District 2013-2014 Wages

    July 24, 2014

  • techel.jpg Iowa man convicted of killing pregnant wife

    A jury convicted an Iowa man Thursday of killing his pregnant wife in 2012, rejecting his claims of innocence after the third trial in the case.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • RAGBRAI rider from Sioux City dies in Mason City

    A RAGBRAI participant from Sioux City has been found dead in his tent in Mason City in the second death during the weeklong bicycling event.

    July 24, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Deliberations resume at Iowa man's murder trial

    Jurors will be allowed to review the video, but not the transcript, of an Iowa man being interrogated as they consider whether he's guilty of murder in the death of his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the iPad lost its swag?

    The company reported this week that sales of its sleek, pricey tablet were down 19 percent from last quarter and 9 percent year-over-year.

    CEO Tim Cook tried to reassure investors that Apple's new partnership with IBM to sell its devices to IBM's corporate customers will help make iPads ubiquitous in the workplace.

    July 24, 2014

  • Health insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8M in refunds

    The federal government says insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8 million in refunds because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act.

    July 24, 2014

AP Video