Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

January 29, 2013

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

NEW YORK — Sara Horowitz was born into a proud union family. Her father worked as a labor lawyer, her grandfather as a vice president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. So it felt like kismet when, on the first day of a new law firm job, Horowitz discovered that she and several other recent hires had been classified as independent contractors. "We weren't given retirement or health insurance benefits. We called ourselves 'the transient workers union,' and I was made president. We joked about it, but for me it was a significant aha! moment. I started realizing there was this whole new way that workers were being treated."

This was the inception of what has since turned into Horowitz's all-encompassing calling. Freelance contractors made up 31 percent of the American workforce in 2005, according to a GAO report, and that ratio is almost surely even higher today. As the freelance trend began to accelerate, in Horowitz's recounting, labor activists at first tried to cajole corporations into hiring all those independent contractors as full-time staff with benefits. But to Horowitz, it was clear this was a losing battle. "It would never make sense from the company's perspective," she says, "and we'd never have enough leverage." Instead, she envisioned a new strategy: She'd find ways to organize and protect freelance workers — in all sorts of fields — in the same way that classic trade unions provide safety nets for corporate employees.

This ongoing quest led to Horowitz's creation of the Freelancers Insurance Company, which now provides health coverage for close to 25,000 New Yorkers and is approaching $100 million in revenues. Along the way, Horowitz has received countless personal accolades. She was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 1999, and in December was named to the New York Federal Reserve Bank board of directors. What's her secret — how did she transform a goal into a successful battle plan?

Text Only
Washington Post Features
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 7, 2014

  • pizza-300x216.jpg VIDEO: Pepperoni, extra cheese and...pot?

    A Vancouver pizzeria has added a unique item to its menu: Customers with a prescription can order pizza infused with marijuana.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo