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Health Care for Everyone

September 17, 2009

It’s a simple goal which so many people have sought for almost a century.  Yet how to get our country to reach this goal has eluded us.

The creative community served by The Actors Fund is famously resourceful in finding affordable housing, jobs to supplement careers in the arts, financial support and health care. To help our community secure affordable health insurance and health care, The Actors Fund has, among our many supportive programs, provided emergency financial assistance and case management, facilitated legislation in New York to offset the cost of COBRA and created the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic (and partnered with other clinics) to provide medical assistance for those who are under- or un-insured.

And now we have launched a new website to educate about the need for health insurance and to give our community the tools to be involved and play a role in making sure that everyone is insured. It’s called Artists United for Health Care.

The Actors Fund’s efforts in health insurance began in 1995 when we won a National Endowment for the Arts grant to develop a website to help artists across the country secure health insurance. As part of our Artists Health Insurance Resource Center, this highly valued service evolved with significant help from the Commonwealth Foundation and the SAG-IACF Fund and today provides state-by-state resources to more than 600,000 visitors a year at www.ahirc.org.

Artists United for Health Care was developed with support from Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), which receives support from the Ford Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), a foundation which promotes knowledge sharing, networking and the financial independence of individual artists by providing business-related training, grants and loans and also incubates innovative programs for the field.

Forty-seven percent of artists are self-employed: that’s a number three and a half times greater than the general population A recent National Endowment for the Arts study showed that actors have a median income of just $23,400, musicians earn just $22,600 annually and the median for dancers is $20,000. And, compared to the national average of 70 percent, only 15 percent of actors have full year, full time employment. Those who work in the arts are twice as likely to be uninsured as the general population, with over 30 percent unable to obtain health insurance. So it’s clear that Health Care reform is a critical issue for the Creative Community.

We have an opportunity to reform our Health Care system so that EVERYONE is covered.  Please visit www.artistsunitedforhealthcare.org, click on your state, then press the ACT tab. Thank you!

Joseph Benincasa
President and CEO,
The Actors Fund

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