Alex Maiolo has worked with The Future of Music Coalition for almost nine years, primarily focusing on the health insurance crisis as it relates to the working musician. In addition, Alex plays in various bands, including the psych-pop outfit Violet Vector & The Lovely Lovelies and ambient/clo-core staple Hi Fi Sky. He is a partner with an insurance agency in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Insurance as it relates to the artist, studio owner and musician is all part of a typical day's tasks.
[Cross-posted at KnowtheMusicBiz.com]
You don't have to be a news junkie to know that the health care debate has been heating up in recent months. With all of this back-and-forth, it's easy to forget that this is about getting more people covered. And musicians are one portion of the American public that could definitely use some help.
My name is Alex Maiolo, and I'm the project manager for Future of Music Coalition's Health Insurance Navigation Tool (or HINT, for short). I'm also a musician. Like everyone at FMC, I've seen too many of my peers have to deal with unforeseen health calamities without the benefit of insurance.
I'm no fan of the big health insurance companies. I own my own business that's based in other kinds of insurance, but I know a lot about the health business. And I can tell you point blank that my sympathies lie with the uninsured — especially my fellow musicians.
In 2002, Future of Music Coalition issued a report that found that 44 percent of working musicians lacked health insurance coverage. One of the main reasons, besides cost, was that many artists thought it was something they could just get to later. But as anyone who has ever played a benefit show for an ailing musician knows, "later" is often too late.
With the debate about health care raging on, we figured it would be a great time to re-launch the survey for 2010 to see if artists have made any headway in terms of insurance coverage. With a down economy and the music business in a state of seemingly permanent flux, we're thinking things might look pretty grim. Still, getting updated numbers really helps us make our case that something needs to be done.
Of course, we haven't been twiddling our thumbs waiting for someone to come along and magically fix things.
Our studies have shown that a lot of musicians think that health insurance is unnecessarily complex. We at FMC know that we probably cant do much about the costs of coverage. What we can do, however, is demystify the process and help musicians understand their options. This is exactly why we created the HINT program in 2005. HINT doesn't sell insurance; we don't even recommend specific plans. What we do have is a website with tons of musician-friendly information. And artists can sign up online to get a FREE phone consultation from a HINT representative (also a musician) to go over their options on a case-by-case, state-by-state basis. We'll even call you on our dime.
If you're a musician, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes (literally, like 10) to take our online survey. It's completely anonymous and confidential. And it's incredibly important.
I'll also be at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin Texas on Thursday, March 18 for a special Mentor Session on musicians and health insurance. It's a great way to learn about our HINT program and schedule an appointment for a more in-depth phone consultation. Hope to see some of you there!