It’s been a crazy couple of days here in DC. With all the hubhub over the government shutdown and general Congressional dysfunction, two of the most important pieces of news have been drowned out:
1. The Affordable Care Act is moving forward, and the health insurance exchanges opened today. This is an online marketplace where those who are currently uninsured, and those who pay for their own insurance now, can look at different plans, compare prices and get coverage.
2. There are many resources out there that can help musicians and the public understand the key components of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to the information at healthcare.gov, there are Q+As, online calculators, and video explainers.
But we know that musicians and artists have unique needs. According to a recent survey FMC conducted in partnership with the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC), US-based artists — dancers, musicians, visual artists, theatre actors, film and media artists — are less likely to have health insurance than the general public. In fact, 43% of survey respondents (N=3402) said they currently do not have health insurance. Like many other Americans, they are unsure about the components of Affordable Care Act, and seek advice about how to navigate this new health care landscape.
This is where we can help.
Starting today, musicians and artists are invited to visit Artists and the Affordable Care Act. The website includes an FAQ, a list of artist-focused educational events and seminars, and links to videos and online calculators. There’s also a staffed musician-friendly hotline at 1-919-264-0418, and artists can email their questions to healthcare [at] headcount [dot] org.
These resources were organized by an ad hoc task force of musician and artist-focused advocacy and service organizations, many of which have spent years helping creators find affordable care or manage health care crises. We aren’t selling health insurance; we simply want to make sure that musicians and artists are able to understand the basic components of the Affordable Care Act, and get the coverage they need.
FMC has been active on the issue of affordable health insurance for more than ten years. We have conducted three online surveys (2002, 2010 and 2013), each examining musicians’ access to affordable coverage. And, in 2005, we launched HINT — the Health Insurance Navigation Tool — that provides personalized advice to musicians about their health care options, for free. In the past eight years, Alex Maiolo and HINT have counseled hundreds of musicians seeking affordable health care.
So many working musicians are currently uninsured, self-employed, low income, and/or under 65, exactly the populations who the Affordable Care Act is designed to help. We hope that the Artists and the Affordable Care Act site will make it easier to obtain that help. And we hope that the Affordable Care Act will be a positive step towards a future where artists won’t have to choose between their creative work and the peace of mind that health insurance provides.