Absurdities in healthcare: TEIGIT's CIGNA problem

I rarely voice my opinion about things that are outside the usual design/computing/social effects axis, but--hell--it's a blog and occasionally something outside the usual topics deserves mention. Take, for instance, the current health insurance situation I find myself in. I'm a member of the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts), largely for the health insurance benefits they provide through their membership in TEIGIT (The Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust). Now, apart from the occasional amusement of thinking that designers are entertainers, or that I'm sharing insurance coverage with starving actors, I rarely think about it and pay my quarterly premium and move on.

Now, here's the problem: TEGIT gets their insurance from CIGNA, an insurance company; CIGNA just decided to "recalculate" the premiums that the Trust pays and discovered that they've been charging freelance graphic designers and starving actors far too little. They send TEIGIT a note to that effect, and TEIGIT sent me a note. Here's TEIGIT's description of CIGNA's actions and their response (which, reading between the lines, is a combination of shock, panic and anger--all of which I sympthize with):

The revisions and recalculations have resulted in enormous rate increases for some of our Cigna groups. California rate increases average over 82%, with some increases as high as 254%. We met with our Cigna representative, and protested the new rates. We are also pursuing legal avenues and we are contacting the Governor’s Office and the Department of Managed Health Care. Please join us in protesting the rate increases by contacting your elected representatives.

(you can read the whole letter [100K PDF], which TEGIT kindly sent me in electronic form)

Basically, CIGNA decided that everyone needs to pay between roughly two and three times as much for their health insurance as they currently do, which is already a lot. What does that look like? Let's take a look at CIGNA's provisional rates for San Francisco:

(EMP = employee, SP=spouse, CH=children, FAM=family)
These are per month. Let's do the math. This means that I, EMP, will pay $10800 per year for health coverage and a family pays $32000 per year.

That, bluntly, is an outrage. I urge you to follow TEIGIT's advice and contact a representative and the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration, the organization responsible for (I believe) regulatory oversight of health insurers nationwide. Tell them that these terms are absurd and likely designed to either kill TEIGIT in California or force them to move to another insurer, which seems like a kind of corporate blackmail or, certainly, bordering on the illegal. Official investigation by the regulators responsible for monitoring the behavior of insurance companies seems to be in order. Me? I'm looking into health insurance brokers, and I suggest the AIGA do the same: TEIGIT may not last, and graphic designers need insurance.

PS: I realize that the whole health industry in America is skewed, and that in exchange for fast access to technology and strong personal protection laws we have, in a sense, chosen to sacrifice a lot of our money. But this is ridiculous.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://orangecone.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/233


I quit the TEIGIT insurance and got
UniCare for $186/month in Illinois. It's a lot less coverage, but even paying out-of-pocket for more stuff comes out WAY less money. And I'm 53, so I do use health care!

I don't have any personal experience (yet) with the following brokers, but they were recommended by friends:

Maria Poroy / 415 986 7726 / maria@accessbenefitsgroup.com
Loretta Montgomery / (415) 680-2111 / lmontgomery@cal-insure.com

Any brokers to recommend??




A device studio that lives at the intersections of ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence, industrial design and materials science.

The Smart Furniture Manifesto

Giant poster, suitable for framing! (300K PDF)
Full text and explanation

Recent Photos (from Flickr)

Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design

By me!
ISBN: 0123748992
Published in September 2010
Available from Amazon

Observing the User Experience: a practitioner's guide to user research

By me!
ISBN: 1558609237
Published April 2003
Available from Amazon

Recent Comments

  • Julie Zolot: I quit the TEIGIT insurance and got UniCare for $186/month read more
  • Mike: I don't have any personal experience (yet) with the following read more
  • Merle Elias: Any brokers to recommend?? read more

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on November 21, 2006 11:57 AM.

Granularities of User Experience in Ubicomp was the previous entry in this blog.

Urban Palimpsests is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.