Revisiting group medical insurance plans

The COBRA coverage from the employer I was laid off from before we
opened our store is expiring soon. A while back there was a
discussion of group medical plans for jewelers and someone mentioned
ABANA which is a group of blacksmiths that apparently will include
jewelers as well. Their web site shows some promise. Has anyone had
any experience with this ABANA or their insurance plan or any other
group plans out there. Of course I am addressing those who live and
work in the US since the rest of you probably have decent medical
coverage. Feel free to reply by private message.


ABANA is the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America. I’ve
been an off and on member of the associated Florida Artist Blacksmith
Association for some years. I’ve never looked at the group medical
that they have access to, but about all you can do is look into the
details and judge it on it’s own merits.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL

I called the company they list on their web site, and they have
never heard of the blacksmiths group. It also did not look like
actual major medical, but the other kind that covers some things, but
not to the extent major medical does.

I’m still trying to find coverage myself. There are several groups
for small and independent businesses that offer group insurance; the
e- mail of one agent I’m working with is:
Can’t remember which small business group he is with, but it is not
a true group insurance, just a plan arranged through a group. Pre-
existing conditions ARE an issue, and just heard today that my
husband and I were both declined, although they will be happy to take
my teenaged daughter. But if you are in fairly good health I liked
the look of their plans. Premiums were in line or cheaper than other
individual plans I’ve found.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the AARP plan folks, which is
through Aetna. If you are 50 or older you are eligible to apply
through AARP, but you must join first (good discounts, so worth it).

Some areas offer policies through their Chamber of Commerce, but
unfortunately not my area.

If you find any good sources for genuine group coverage I would LOVE
to hear about them!

Good luck!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio


I don’t know who your cobra coverage is with, but mine was with BCBS
of FL. A friend told me that by law, BCBS had to allow me to
roll-over my cobra policy to a conversion policy. I didn’t qualify
for a traditional policy so without the conversion option I would not
have had coverage.

This is not a highly advertised item as they prefer not to have to
offer it. There are no pre-existing exclusions since the coverage is
continuous; costs a little more than cobra but includes all the
benefits your cobra policy offered; includes RX if you had coverage
with your cobra plan. Can not be cancelled unless you stop making
payments. My premiums only increased $15 a month this year.

If your health is really good, the policy is probably not
cost-effective as you can get another one, but if you have anything
which will keep you from getting a policy, this is a great thing to
know about.

Good luck,

It’s possible that roll-over coverage from a COBRA policy is going
to be horrendously expensive, but if you have any medical conditions,
it may pay off in the end to bite the bullet and pay for that while
you continue to look for other (more reasonably priced) coverage.
Depending on the laws in your state, many insurers are allowed to not
cover pre-existing conditions IF there is a lapse in coverage, but as
long as you maintain continuous coverage, they are obligated to cover
you for any expenses for those conditions.

Check your local laws, and keep careful records of when you’re
covered, and by whom.

(I work for the local Blue Cross affilliate… NOT one of the evil
ones, thank you! :slight_smile: )

I'm still trying to find coverage myself. There are several groups
for small and independent businesses that offer group insurance 

One you might want to check into is the local Better Business Bureau.
When I had my consulting business in Rochester, NY, the BBB covered
me and my subcontractors at very reasonable rates. Of course,
Rochester has low health insurance rates anyway. I was shocked when
I moved to Arizona - nearly triple for equivalent coverage.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

Hope ya’ll are writing to/calling your representatives to let them
know what problems you’re encountering and what you would like to see
come of all this hoopla. However you feel about it, speak your mind,
or take what you get.

Marianne Hunter