usbg bartender health insurance: an inside look
When a fellow bartender suffered head injuries after getting hit by a car walking across the street, H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of Elixir in San Francisco and USBG member, knew just holding a fundraiser wasn’t enough for his uninsured friend. Witnessing these difficulties firsthand led Ehrmann to Christina Lawrence, insurance broker with Chartis Insurance and the plan’s insurance broker. He expressed the need to do more — to offer health insurance benefits to all bartenders. With the help of Lawrence and Livio Lauro, then-president of USBG, they started putting this plan into action, finalizing it in April and launching it this month along with the USBG Health Insurance website here.
Because of the hard work of new USBG President David Nepove and Executive Board Member Lauro, USBG now offers health insurance to member bartenders through Chartis Insurance and third party administrator, Homeland HealthCare. With its inception comes a plan suitable for all bartenders — single, married, divorced or bartenders with families. The SecureCare limited medical benefit plan is available to all USBG members, and is designed to be affordable and to cater to the needs of each individual.
Liz Edwards, USBG national programs director, says bartenders have been talking about getting insurance, as a group, for years, and with the fickle nature of bartending jobs, USBG’s coverage helps the employed barkeep and those bartenders currently looking for work.
“Some bartenders have bad insurance, they’re in between jobs or they want to switch over to a new bar. They don’t necessarily work at a place long enough to receive health care benefits,” she notes. Ultimately, Edwards says bartenders “just want to do their job at a great place,” but it’s sometimes the lack of available insurance that may prevent them from taking a job they really want.
The USBG health care plan, available now through most chapters (because of state laws in some states, certain chapters can’t offer it) can be purchased on its own or as a supplement to health care coverage a bartender may already have. Plans start as low as $77 per month for a single person needing minimum coverage to family rates between $189 and $514. The plan covers prescription, vision, lab and x-ray costs, offers $2,000 accident medical expense per occurrence and covers the individual and/or his/her family.
Simply, the health care plan offered to USBG members is a month-to-month plan with no co-pays or deductibles. Also, pre-existing conditions are covered, as well as maternity costs. Edwards says it’s “flexible and convenient” for bartenders, but above all else, it’s affordable.
Because this is a limited medical benefit plan, there are no co-pays and no deductibles, meaning bartenders pay at lower rates for doctor or hospital visits. Along with emergency room benefits, diagnostic and x-ray benefits, health screenings and hospital confinement benefits (up to 30 days per stay), the plan also includes critical care coverage, accidental death, prescription drug cards, a vision program, with optional dental and disability income benefits.
The most cost effective and efficient element of the coverage, however, according to Crystal Cannedy, , the group sales/enrollment coordinator for Homeland HealthCare, is the Consult A Doctor program that provides members with a quick consultation. With this option, insured bartenders call in or go online to explain their symptoms to a physician, and as long as it’s something easily diagnosable, the physician can write a prescription, which is sent to a local pharmacy.
Cannedy, who works directly with USBG members, says the focus on the Consult A Doctor benefit is important because it’s free and provides immediate care. Because the limited benefit plan gives you just that — limited doctors visits (three visits per person or six per family a year), bartenders can use this program instead, saving those doctor’s visits when they are truly in need of in-person medical care. It should be noted, however, that even if a member uses up their visits, they will still receive a re-priced version of their bill through Beech Street PPO Network.
The USBG plan provides a variety of benefits and options for its members, and by keeping its members healthy, it also keeps them secure in their current positions. “This is another way, especially in hard times, that we [bartenders] are able to support each other,” Edwards says.