Linda McClure said one of the things she enjoys about her job is that she is constantly learning something new.
“Medical insurance is ever-evolving,” said McClure.
McClure is the controller – “the numbers lady”— at Ag Health Benefits Alliance.
The Alliance in St. Helena has been providing affordable health insurance and other benefits to agricultural employees in Northern California since its founding as the California Winegrower Foundation in 1972.
McClure has been with the organization for 43 years — almost as long as the Alliance has existed.
1. What was your first job?
Convalescent home, St. Helena.
2. How did you get into the benefits industry?
My career began while I was a senior in high school. A relative was working at California Winegrower Foundation and the rest is history. I started out as a part-time clerk, was a receptionist, processed medical claims, distributed vacation checks, did bookkeeping and now I have been controller since 2016.
3. How are employers dealing with rising health care costs?
Employers have to ask the employee to contribute a portion of the monthly premium. An employer can’t take the full brunt of it all.
4. What’s something that people are surprised to find out about the Alliance?
People don’t realize we are local and people can walk in and ask us a question at the drop of a hat. It’s not like you get on the phone with an 800 number. But we (do) have an 800 number.
5. What’s new with your business?
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After operating for more than 40 years as California Grower Foundation, we were often confused with other similarly named organizations and foundations.
We decided a new name was needed to better describe the work we do and the audience we serve. We created and introduced our new (name) effective January 2019: Ag Health Benefits Alliance.
6. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?
Employer-sponsored health care is expensive and the rules affect employers in different ways, depending on the number of people they employ.
7. Who do you most admire in the business world?
Lee Henderson, my former boss and friend, led California Grower Foundation from the mid-’70s until her retirement in 2006.
Rebecca Barlow, our executive director, has also helped the organization thrive under her leadership, providing financial security and peace of mind to thousands of workers who serve our community.
It is a real privilege to be a part of this legacy.
8. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
Simplify (or better yet, eliminate) the cumbersome and overly-complicated employer-mandated reporting requirements.
9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
How long I have been at California Winegrower Foundation/Ag Health Benefits Alliance. And my love for tent camping.
10. What’s your favorite place to tent camp?
Casini Ranch in Duncans Mills. We’ve been going there for the last 23 years.