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TOPIC: Chosen ones

RE:Chosen ones 31 Dec 2006 15:19 #16

  • tbloomer
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Someone told me that in the state of NJ the law prohibits professional associations from offering health care benefits. (This is third hand info.) Anyway, this allows the insurance companies to charge more to small businesses because it prevents the "little guys" from forming associations which would allow them to negotiate better group insurance rates. Most of the state laws about insurance favor the insurance companies . . . follow the money.

The only mistake that the AFA made in their attempt to create a health insurance plan was this:

They should have compiled a complete set of demographics on the membership before going to the insurance companies to negotiate rates. The pilot program that the AFA offered was created by the insurance companies in order for them to obtain their own demographics and thus determine the rates based on participation in the pilot plan. Therefore the insurance companies controlled the negotiations from day one.

If the AFA were to do a complete membership survey and collect ALL of the information they needed before going to the insurance companies, they would be in a better position to negotiate. However, the result may still be the same.

Since the AFA membership is made up of not only full time professional farriers, but part-time farriers what have insurance from their "other job," and also farriers what have insurance through a spouse. So the first order of business is to find out how many farriers in the AFA actually NEED medical insurance. Until you answer that question you can't go shopping.

The Guild attempted to create a medical insurance program several years ago. Unlike the AFA, their entire membership is made up of full time professionals. However, the overwhealming majority of the members were already insured through other means (mostly spousal employers). So there was not enough participation to make offering insurance benefits worthwhile.

The cost of insurance is a huge problem for many small independent businesses. In the farrier trade, this problem is compounded by the fact that there are many part time farriers what do not charge a living wage for their services. Therefore, the full-time farriers have to compete as a minority against a majority of part time farriers what don't have the overhead of a full time farrier.

Not all part time farriers contribute to this this problem of keeping prices low, but there's enough of them out there holding prices down that the general public doesn't view our trade as a profession practiced by professionals.

Although it would be nice if the GPF or the AFA or the BWFA was able to offer their members health insurance, I wonder if the AVMA or the AAEP offers medical insurance benefits to their members. 'nuther words, is it actually feasible for a member organization to do this? If not, then we are wasting our time.

Since the GPF already decided that it was not feasible (for their group) I decided not to put medical insurance on the Guilds strategic plan outline.

Somewhere in my memory the number 2000 is stuck together with medical insurance. Employers what have over 2000 employees seem to be in a position to negotiate good medical insurance premiums. It ain't very likely that the AFA has 2000 full time farrier members who also want or need medical insurance.

Since no hard data exists which actually provides the real number of potential insured members, I humbly sugggest that somebody figure out what that number IS. AND once you get that number, PLEASE do***ent it so that later on somebody doesn't go out and waste their time trying to reinvent the wheel all over again.

Suppose you learn that there are only 100 AFA members what actually want/need this benefit. Why spend time energy and talent on providing a member benefit which only benefits a very small percentage of the membership? I believe that there were only 60 members who participated in the AFA's medical insurance pilot program created by Jeff Ridley. So Jeff put a lot of work into a program that only 60/3000 members or 2% decided to try.
Tom Bloomer
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Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Chosen ones 31 Dec 2006 16:33 #17

  • Dick Fanguy
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I don’t know details concerning Mr. Ridley’s efforts, but I know he did a survey before contacting the insurance companies. The problem was that the survey asked how many members would be interested in the association offering health insurance not how many needed it or would take advantage of it or how much they would be able and willing to pay for it. Once again, we got bit for not having our demographic information in hand.

Tom Bloomer’s 2000 number has to do with employees not members . It’s a lot harder to find insurance for members than it is for employees. Steve Spencer put together the AFA’s first insurance program and got us started with the Accidental Death and Dismemberment policy w e have in place for all members. He was following up and trying to get us in a coop program with some other organizations that would give us the numbers to have some clout with insurance companies, but it got shut down with an AFA administrative change.

I still think that we can find an appealing program, we just might have to be more creative about how we look at it. Whether that’s through a cooperative program with other associations, through creating new associate membership categories to kick up our member base, or through looking at restricted insurance coverage like the PRCA’s, we should be able to find a workable program if we get all our ducks in a row.
Dick Fanguy, CJF
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For every problem there is always a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong. Mark Twain

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RE:Chosen ones 31 Dec 2006 21:01 #18

  • Gary_Miller
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Phil Armitage wrote:
Come on Gary, this type of hard questioning is tireing.
What's really tireing is not getting answers to the hard questions.
It's really simple when a program as important as this fails you need to find out why it failed. You can't fix it if you don't know the facts. Surveys are a good why to collect facts as long as you ask the right questioins and provide an area for remarks.
We (the AFA) cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand and ignore issues when they come up. We can't keep forming committees to fix things without first finding out the facts on what the problems are (if any) first.Phil Armitage wrote:
It underminds the hard honest efforts of those involved with that issue.
What really undermines the hard work of those involved is when we don't try and find out the facts and work to correct the problem instead of choosing to no nothing.Phil Armitage wrote:
To start your survey I can speak for myself. I did recieve the insurance info. from the AFA, choose not to sign up for it. Because my wifes policy covers the whole family 100% through her work.
Its been said to be a successful farrier your wife has to have a good job with benifits.Phil Armitage wrote:
I have looked into policys for self employed if the day comes we need to pay for it. Group policys are available for self employed. I also think rates and benefits differ from state to state. I can see where an Association like the AFA might not be able to compete with what is already available to us as self employed out there.
We're not tring to compete just find a insurance program that could be offered to the membership at a good cost, that's all.
Gary Miller, PF

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RE:Chosen ones 01 Jan 2007 02:32 #19

  • shodrite
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Not all Farriers need the wife to have health insurance from her work to be successful. My husband has been shoeing horses for 47 years, and the last insurance payment we made was $1080.00. Thank goodness he is now covered by the V A, but for many years we had to foot the bill. We still pay about $475.00 a month JUST for me (THE WIFE), AND I DON'T HAVE INSURANCE through any work.

Shodrite, Charge-rite, and Work-hard Then it'll be all-rite.

from JEArgus,Jr.,CJF's wife,
Jeanette Argus (sureshod)
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RE:Chosen ones 01 Jan 2007 04:56 #20

  • Gary_Miller
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Jeanette
Please don't think that I feel all farriers have a wife with good benifit as I know many who have their own insurance or insurance by other means. I also know some with wives who are stay at home moms (good for them). However most farriers I know don't have any health insurance due to the cost. But you already know what it costs.

I'm one who has benifits from my military retirement. Knowing the cost of health care even through my wifes job, scares me to death.

I think it would be good if the AFA could negotiate a insurance plan that could be affordable to the membership.

Gary
Gary Miller, PF

Ride hard, shoot straight, and always speak the truth.
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RE:Chosen ones 01 Jan 2007 06:09 #21

  • beslagsmed
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Reguarding not only health care, but other benifits as well:

Has the AFA ever thought of coming under some other union so they could enjoy the benifits of the "many"? For example;

Here in Denmark we have socialized medical care, so will not address that benifit, but other benifits i.e. education, clinics I can addres.

The main farriers union here DS is a subpart of a larger union. In this larger union, the farriers do have their own leadership, committee and such which governs the "farriers union" as a whole. This larger union includes most blue collar workers i.e. plumbers, welders, sheetmetal workers - these types of blue collor workers. The farriers in the union only total under 300, but they enjoy the benifits of the larger group. They get their business insurance (not health, but job) at the much lower rate than I pay as an individual farrier.

Clinics - Are planned for a year in advance, member are notified so they can plan their work load. When attending DS sponsered clinics, costs are paid by DS to include all attending are paid an amount a daily wage for attending, they are paid for driving, food and drinks are paid. They last one a friend of mine attended he only brought his own hand tools. DS owns forges, anvils and stands so those were set up for the attendee to use. There are only so many places for attendee so it is first come , first serve type deal.

There are many other befifits as well: so many hrs of legal advice/help per year, help setting up and managing books and "business" end of our jobs. Rebates on vehicles, fuel, mobile phone rates, internet connections, wrecker services, tax services, pension plans, paid vacations, and the list goes on.

The down side is you have to be a certified farrier to get these benifits. I am currently going through their certification program. Once certified I can then get them as well.

I don't know what the future hold for the AFA. As an American living outside the U.S. and a member of the AFA I do care about it and its future. Maybe there needs to be a turning point as far as business goes in order to meet the needs of the members.

Just some food for thought to throw out so maybe you can know how farriers from other parts deal with some of these issues. Just some thoughts,

Mikel
Mikel Dawson, RJF

(Denmark)
What part of "NO" don't you understand!!

Caution: Watch for hoof in mouth disease!!!
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RE:Chosen ones 02 Jan 2007 01:34 #22

In my experience, there is no such thing as a "reasonable health insurance program." If you want good coverage (preventative, low co-pay, high reimbursement) with a low deductible you must be prepared to pay the big bucks. The only health care system in the US currently is Medicare. After 2 years of hard work the previous committee offered the members the best thing they could put together. Any individual who wishes to can do the leg-work again. I would rather put my limited time and effort into something I can actually accomplish.

Maybe when Hillary is elected President things will change. :D

Nancy
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RE:Chosen ones 02 Jan 2007 02:56 #23

  • George Geist
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Tom Bloomer,
I dont know if the NJ thing is correct or not but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. We do have Union guys in that state who are fully covered. That state is one of several that the AFA couldn't get coverage in.

This is the biggest problem in that all of the plans they've come up with haven't been good in all 50 states.

For all those who need medical coverage the Union is still available to them.
George
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RE:Chosen ones 02 Jan 2007 17:48 #24

  • tbloomer
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Dick Fanguy wrote:
The problem was that the survey asked how many members would be interested in the association offering health insurance not how many needed it or would take advantage of it or how much they would be able and willing to pay for it.
Insurance companies want medical history demographics so that they can do a risk assesment and determine their rates. Since good health is such an inportant factor to a farrier's success, you would think that as a group, farriers have better than average health. Therefore, as a group, farriers should present a lower risk to health insurance companies. But, this is all speculation. The only way to know for sure is to gather and compile the medical histories of the membership. Provided that this information is kept confidential - remove the names from the histories - this information could be handed to the statisticians and bean counters for a risk assesment.

The other problem is that member associations are not employers. Each state has different laws governing group insurance. In the case of states like NJ, (haven't confirmed this, but it make sense) only employers are legally allowed to buy group insurance. So it may not be possible for the AFA to provide group health plans in every state - then what? Most group insurance is geared toward employers, not member organizations. Maybe somebody should look into how the labor unions deal with this situation - IF in fact labor unions can and do provide insurance to their members in all 50 states???

George, does the JHU health insurance plan cover all members in all 50 states? If so, then there must be some form of legal loophole which applies to certain kinds of organizations.

Bottom line, answer the FEASIBILITY questions first. It may not be legally possible to offer to every member a medical insurance benefit. Maybe that situation would have to be handled by individual state chapters . . . since the insurance laws vary from state to state.
Tom Bloomer
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Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Chosen ones 02 Jan 2007 17:54 #25

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N Zwicker wrote:
Maybe when Hillary is elected President things will change. :D
I would expect the first thing to change would be the end of global warming. I shiver just thinking about her. :)
Tom Bloomer
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Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Chosen ones 02 Jan 2007 22:24 #26

  • George Geist
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Tom,
No. It is available in all 50 states for those who want it but it is something members must pay extra for. Costs tend to vary from place to place with NY and NJ being most expensive naturally.

Although I cant quote a dollar figure rest assured that it is pretty expensive. Is about the same cost as being COBRA'd from a regular job.

There are no easy answers to this problem as you guys all know. But for guys who need it and can get it nowhere else the Union does have a pretty good plan.
George
For another fun place to play........
www.horseshoersforum.invisionzone.com
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RE:Chosen ones 03 Jan 2007 00:54 #27

  • vthorseshoe
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Blue Cross/ Blue shield Cobra plan Dental vision and health/hospitalization costs me $412 a month. That is with a $20. deductible.
It was a group plan my wife had where she worked. i am able to continue it for the next 3 yrs. Then need to find another company or insurance plan.
This plan paid over $100,000. in hospital bills covering the 3 visits my wife spent in the ICU and our regular checkups and other medical expenses.

I don't know just yet what I will try to get when this is run out.
"you may not like what I say" !
-but-
"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
Southeast...
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