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Videographers Union in LA?

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Tim NeighborsVideographers Union in LA?
by on Jan 21, 2011 at 9:26:25 pm

I've been a freelance videographer for nearly a decade now and I'd really like to get some healthcare insurance. Can anyone recommend a Union in Los Angeles (I'm actually in Pasadena) for Corporate Video Makers/Event videographers that would be a fit? Or is there a better option for me? I'd rather die than go to the County Hospital and wait 12hrs for service again.

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grinner hesterRe: Videographers Union in LA?
by on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:36:36 pm

I say buy your own. Reducing your rate to union wages then paying dues on top of that is hardly a solution, imo.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Videographers Union in LA?
by on Jan 25, 2011 at 8:18:34 pm

One of the health reforms under Obama was the ability to write off your health care expenses if you're self-employed. It's more complicated than that, of course, but there are resources out there a google away. Try NASE, which is like an AARP for the self-employed. There are insurance groups like UHC United and Aetna, that can put you into a shared-risk pool. These things are kind of like buying extended warranties for your used car. But no matter how arcane the insurance info gets, you should get you some. Why?

When you're a freelance lone wolf, if you don't work, you don't eat. And you don't have rent money. No matter how big a savings cushion you have, you need constant positive cash flow to survive. Any health issues that take you out of productive time are thus doubly expensive; for the care and supplies like prescriptions or therapy, to get you well, plus the lost revenue opportunities while you are incapacitated. So joining some HMO or other health insurance plan, especially one with regular preventive care visits, check-ups, flu shots, screenings, etc. is an investment in your business and you must make room in the budget for that.

Young guys tend to skip this, feeling that they are healthy and that using the money elsewhere is a safe gamble. Most of the time they are right. Except when they are wrong. Like when they have some kind of accident happen. OR when they ignore a minor ailment and it escalates into something more serious and expensive. In either of those cases, hobbling into Emergency without some kind of coverage is going to blow your savings away in short order.

You take out insurance on your gear against loss or theft, why should your body get less care?

You can get the insurance coverage if you join a union, or you can find one of these independent pools. The union membership comes with numerous pros and cons, and you'll have to run the numbers to know if you really could do better out on your own without them, in your specific situation. The union generally draws from a larger pool than you alone, so they may get a bit of a discount, however, that discount may be offset by the health needs of older members in the shared risk pool. Your best value comes from either being in such a large pool that statistically your worst medical nightmares are a drop in their bucket... or a pool comprised of a smaller number of all extremely fit and young individuals, with low risk. The plans will have different emphasis on stuff based on the characteristics of their pools: one will focus more on affordable and cheap meds, another might focus on preventative care, for example. The premiums will range from low to high, depending on how much security vs. risk you like. Likely your choice of where to go for services will be restricted to approved hospitals and clinics that agree to be on your plan. You may or may not get to pick your doctor. I was in one HMO where I never saw the same doc twice for a period of three years, and each one was a rank beginner, freshly minted. It was a cheap plan to pay into, but the continuity of care was not there: every checkup was like a first visit, and always I had to re-enter the medical history paperwork every visit, as the records would vanish every time the doctor changed, and there was always a fight at Walgreens over the prescriptions as the HMO kept changing their formulary almost quarterly. Whatever drug was covered one month might require a change to a generic the next, a change back the month after, or a special note from the doc who was always out of town or unreachable on a weekend, and you could never stay ahead of the changes. Finally we moved up to a better but slightly more expensive plan, and it has been much more stable, with one doctor for the long term, a guy I can build a relationship and history with, who can put my health situation in a context.

You can also use one of the setups President Bush was pushing: you set up your own pool of *one*, a dedicated and tax-sheltered fund that's like an IRA for your health care. That fund is only as good as the amount you regularly contribute to it, and when it runs out, you have nothing else to pay with. And you make all the care decisions about where to go and what to have done or not done. Which really rich people have always had the ability to do:-)

The union's pitch to you will be the "added value" of their other services and protections on top of the health care benefit. There are union-like organizations for self-employed people to join that also offer some of these things, but they by nature have to be much more generic than an industry-oriented group like IATSE or SAG/AFTRA. Some of the stuff they offer you from the generic associations will be useless for your specific situation.

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Tim NeighborsRe: Videographers Union in LA?
by on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:43:46 pm

Wow. thanks so much for taking the time to write this response! Theres a little more to my situation that I didn't mention. I have a genetic disorder. Its a very common disorder called Hemachromatosis and as long as I take care of it it won't cause me any problems. However, it my limited experience, I have not been able to get heath insurance because of this 'pre-existing condition'. I thought that maybe a union would be a way around this. Otherwise, I fear that I may just be out of luck and left to fend for myself until I inevitably die cause I can't afford to go to the hospital. ...or until the Obama Reform bill goes into full effect in 2014 and I can finally get health insurance. :) Sorry to turn this into a health care forum! Anything else I should know?

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