[…] Nearly one-third of American musicians are uninsured — double the percentage of the overall population without medical coverage. Only an estimated five percent of insured musicians, namely session musicians and orchestra players, have health care provided through their professional musical careers. That unfortunately doesn’t include most indie-rock artists.
Instead, most musicians scrape by selling records, tickets, and merchandise — all revenue sources that don’t guarantee a steady paycheck. As a result, artists often forego steep health-care costs to pay for food, rent, and other necessities. “If you’re living on 15 or 20 thousand dollars a year, then health insurance actually does become a luxury,” Health Insurance Navigation Tool program director Alex Maiolo told Indy Week in 2008. “It’s hardly a luxury. It’s something people need.”
There are some limited options today to address the widespread health-care drought. The Future Of Music Coalition, a national nonprofit organization devoted to various musician causes, consults men and women who are looking to find medical coverage on a pro bono basis. MusiCares also gives millions in aid each year for those desperately seeking help. Other groups including artist unions, healthcare advocates, and other musician organizations can help. If done right, musicians can find affordable medical coverage that doesn’t involve free clinics or safety-net hospitals.