Beware the Woman Who is Smart, Educated and Willing to Speak Up

My friend Taylor Dunham is the one that my professional peer group always goes to for health insurance information and advice. She is a triathlete, vinyasa yoga and Yoga Tune Up® teacher, running coach, daughter of a doctor, and survivor of eight major surgeries – both planned and emergency. (In the above photo from last year a group of us had a dinner party in her bedroom while she was recovering from knee surgery.) Basically, this woman knows her way around the insurance industry.

Plus she is balanced, thoughtful and reliable in times of stress and crisis… she was a wonderful source of support during the rather unsettling weeklong cadaver dissection lab we did together. (Equal gratitude to her steady reassurance and Dunkin’ Donuts chocolate Muchkins for helping get me through that week.)

Taylor has studied the ins and outs of Obamacare, the way Cobra works, done the math on premiums and deductibles. She understands all those things that make me want to stick my fingers in my ears and say “la la la la la….” ad nauseam to block out the world and deny the fact that I live in a vulnerable human body.

Last year when the coverage plans at Equinox were rapidly changing, leaving many of us without a reliable insurance option, she was all over it. She was doing the math, getting on the phone with HR, spending hours of her time drafting detailed emails… she was doing all the stuff that most of us wouldn’t bother doing because it’s just too overwhelming and feels impossible to take on.

Finally, after making little progress in her ongoing attempts to have a conversation with upper management, she stopped trying. Then just this week an article came out on Bloomberg.com entitled Equinox Is Slashing Health Coverage for Its High-Priced Trainers… And it’s not Obamacare’s fault, which she re-posted, in addition to speaking up about her frustrating experience.

In a post on Facebook, Taylor recounted her thwarted experience seeking support, enumerated the increased financial and health risks with the changed coverage, noted that yes all this is completely legal, and stated her opinion: “I find it appalling and insulting that Equinox expects us to sit back and accept this as the new standard.” You can see Taylor’s post here.

I cannot personally vouch for the information in the Bloomberg article. I am not writing this post to weigh in on whether Equinox made a just choice in changing their health coverage plans. EQX has been a wonderful employer to me and this is an issue that I’ve chosen to avoid by bowing out of attempting to be covered through them anymore (although the fact that they had such unusually excellent coverage for yoga teachers was one of the main reasons I prioritized employment with them – my dad was so proud about that).

As I said, I’m the type who will more likely get overwhelmed by the fine print than assert myself on a topic this complicated. (I’ve been haggling with the NY Health Office about my own new insurance since I lost mine through EQX and I’m not really clear if I’m covered or not – note to self: call again today… ugh.)

But I do want to shout BRAVO to Taylor, who is willing to speak up about an issue this big that she has researched in-depth and feels passionately about. It is scary to say something publicly about your employer. But sometimes it is only through throwing up a flare, that you finally get some attention from the higher-ups. The communication might be rocky, but a conversation can start.

Our new government administration in the U.S. seems like it will be more in the bent of steam-rolling dissenters than sitting down for win-win conversations with the “little guys.” It is an important time for individuals who are members of big, changing systems, who have strong feelings about relevant issues, to do the research and make their voices heard… even if you’re quaking in your boots a little.

I believe that Equinox, as a system, has an essentially compassionate soul that wants to serve humanity’s growth and evolution. It is a system that has been co-created by passionate, forward thinking individuals, on all levels. That’s why I take pride in working there. That’s why I’m excited to see how Taylor’s new attempts at communication will pan out… whether or not insurance options will ever shift back in our favor.

As time marches on, I hope that each of us has the courage to be the little guy with the loud voice. Follow your instincts, tune in to your values, do your research, and say something. Not in a snarky way. Just in a straight-up educated way.

It’s not the end of the world to disagree… and there is no cosmic right and wrong or good and evil. This is how life works… we disagree, we haggle, we reach out, we push back, we see each other, we meet, we evolve.

Like Taylor, start by seeking answers and support from within the system. If you can’t get through and it’s truly important to you, risk speaking out. The “higher-ups” are people too, and once we chip through our assigned roles a little, I believe we all want to meet in a mutually respectful heart-to-heart manner.

Cool people live their values. And living a value-based life is an  essential aspect of the Equinox  brand, messaging and marketing… and Taylor’s bold embodiment of her own badassity.

Taylor’s website

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