Figuring out an affordable, accessible way to get healthcare for contractors, freelancers and self-employed people has been on Alex Hillman’s to-do list for a long time now.
Much of the Indy Hall founder’s efforts in the last several years has centered on bringing resources to those not employed by a traditional 9-to-5. In 2019, he helped organize a remote workers holiday party in Philly. Just before the pandemic in 2020, he gathered tons of contract and freelancer workers for the first-ever Philly Freelance Fest at REC Philly. Indy Hall’s inception was even based in coworking — creating a space for people to form connections outside of a regular office setting — before most of the world caught on.
After dealing with the pandemic, closing Indy Hall’s hub at 399 Market St. and rethinking online communities, Hillman has been able to circle back to a project he started about three years ago: healthcare for independents.
During February, Indy Hall is piloting a healthcare offering with Vitable, a Philly-based startup that designs healthcare services for hourly, contract or uninsured workers. It’s aiming for at least 20 users to sign up for services beginning at about $80 per month per household, including children, partners or roommates.
The pilot will serve folks in Southeastern PA, and covers primary care services via telehealth or in-person home visits. (Hillman himself recently got a yearly physical through the service, including a blood draw in his own living room, he said.) It will also cover urgent care services in Vitable’s network, at-home lab testing, X-rays, STD testing and drug screenings. It also offers discount drug prescriptions via mail.
The offering focuses on primary care, so things like a trip to the emergency room will still cost a user out-of-pocket expenses, but most insurance plans do, Hillman says. The care offered now is pretty basic, but more expansive women’s health and mental health is coming. This option is a step toward regular, preventative care for people who are uninsured, or can be used as an add-on to those who are insured but have high out-of-pocket costs.
“Even if you do have insurance, it’s sometimes too expensive to use it,” Hillman said. “Having something like this makes it so you can actually access healthcare.”
Hillman anticipates that most of the folks signing up this month will be Indy Hall members, as they’re already integrated into the organization, but the pilot will not be exclusive to members. In the future, he hopes to team up with other membership orgs across the city that serve the entrepreneurial community to add to the pool of shared resources. Like other insurance plans, the more participants, the cheaper the shared cost goes.
Indy Hall is hosting a virtual information session about the pilot on Thursday, Feb. 3, at noon to talk about how the model will work. RSVP is required, and any contractor, freelancer or independent worker in the Greater Philadelphia region is welcome to come, even if they’re not an Indy Hall member.
And when it comes to a physical space for Indy Hall, Hillman said the team is working toward a more permanent space near 2nd and Spring Garden streets in Northern Liberties. In fall of 2021, Indy Hall piloted some IRL pop-ups, and though Omicron shook up some of those initial plans, the org has set up a new “clubhouse” in NoLibs for the time being.
Instead of focusing as much on full-time desks, they’re leaning more into flex work, anticipating folks will come a certain number of days a week or month. It’s open for some existing members now, and in the spring will likely open to the waitlist of people and the rest of the public for membership.
“It is still a place to come get work done. It’s cozy, quiet and productive,” Hillman said. “We are using it as an opportunity to culture reset of what makes sense in 2022.”
coworking w/Indy Hall vibes, vax required 😀 😀 😀 pic.twitter.com/JMTPa6Eg4U
— 📙 Alex Hillman (@alexhillman) December 14, 2021