Guild to Members: Get Own Insurance

Jockeys' Current Health Plan Could End Dec. 31 or sooner, Meyocks says.

The Jockeys’ Guild is encouraging members to secure their own health insurance as the current policy, the organization’s self-funded program, may be terminated as soon as Dec. 31. Meanwhile, Guild officials met with industry representatives Nov. 13 at Keeneland Race Course to seek emergency financial support.

The Guild’s current insurance plan, which members have termed “Cadillac” in proportions, comes with medical, dental, and prescription drug coverage but costs jockeys a monthly premium of $690.00 for a family policy. Health claims (up to $75,000 per person) are paid by the Guild, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy Oct. 12. Although a federal bankruptcy court in Louisville, KY has allowed the organization to continue to pay outstanding disability, health and life insurance claims, the organization’s current revenue sources are limited.

“It is already clear that we will be unable to continue the existing health insurance plan outside of California past December 31, 2007 in its present form unless we can be assured of an immediate increase in industry funding, and we may be required to terminate it sooner if there is insufficient funding,” wrote the Guild’s National Manager, Terry Meyocks, in a letter issued to membership Nov. 5.

Jockeys in California currently receive $1 million toward health insurance each year from uncashed tickets in the state, and will thus be secure in their policies. Otherwise, Meyocks wrote, “each rider outside of California who now has Guild insurance will be obligated to secure their own health insurance if we are unable to obtain replacement coverage.”

According to Meyocks, there are only about 120 members enrolled in the insurance program outside the state of California due to high premium costs. When the Guild health plan terminates, there will not be COBRA continuation coverage.

Although the Guild has requested health insurance proposals from 12 different companies, the organization has not yet obtained a nationwide bid for coverage. The Nov. 13 meeting with industry representatives, including members of the NTRA, was scheduled to seek increased industry funding.  

In the letter posted on the Guild’s website, Meyocks told members to “reach out as soon as possible… to obtain coverage to make sure there is no gap in health insurance for you and your family.”

The organization believes it will be able to continue the existing life insurance and temporary disability programs for national members, as well as the health plan for California riders.