A health insurance company headed by an old friend from when President Obama was an Illinois state senator got a $340 million federal loan to establish Obamacare co-ops in New York, New Jersey and Oregon despite having a chronic record of consumer and regulatory complaints.
The New York-based Freelancers Insurance Company has been rated the “worst” insurer for two straight years by state regulators, and data compiled by a national insurance association show an extremely high rate of consumer complaints.
The firm was founded in 2008 by Sara Horowitz, who worked with Obama while he was in the Illinois state senate to launch Demos, a left-wing, New York think tank funded in part by George Soros.
Before May 13, 2011, the Demos website described Horowitz and Obama as members of the founding group in 1999 that became “the core of Demos’ staff and Board of Trustees.”
Sometime between that date and Nov. 6, 2011, the Obama reference was deleted, according to cached versions of the site stored by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Before incorporating FIC, Horowitz had established the Freelancers Union, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as offering “health insurance and other benefits, plus advocacy, solidarity, and resources for freelancers and independent workers.”
In 2012, Horowitz’s FIC won the largest single award under an obscure Obamacare provision that allocates $2 billion to establish 24 co-ops to compete against private insurers and state health insurance exchanges. Co-ops are collectively owned organizations that produce goods or services for the benefit of members instead of for profit.
The funds are awarded as tax-free loans by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Consumer Insurance Information and Oversight.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently opened an inquiry concerning FIC’s eligibility for the loans.
In 2011, the New York State Insurance Department ranked FIC last among commercial insurers with the most complaints and 49th of 50 among all the state’s insurance providers, including health maintenance organizations.
In 2012, the Empire State insurance regulator again ranked Freelancers “worst” in complaints and 51st among 54 rated New York-based insurers.
The department ruled that “the health insurer did not comply with statutory or contractual obligations” in half the cases filed against Horowitz’s company by consumers.