The health care reform bill passed by Congress last night will benefit every visual and performing artist and entertainment professional in this country. Everyone who supports the arts should be pleased.
Unlike the vast majority of Americans who receive their health insurance from employers or government programs, most artists are forced to find coverage for themselves and their families in the individual or direct-pay market. In most states they can be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and when it is accessible it is often either unaffordable – with premiums that can be raised as much as 39% or more in a year – or so stripped of benefits as to be virtually useless. For this reason, artists – like other self-employed workers – are twice as likely to be uninsured as the general population.
The legislation speaks directly to this unfair situation. Private insurers will no longer be permitted to deny coverage or cancel policies based on claims’ history. An essential health benefits package will be available to everyone, at levels of cost-sharing that fit their health care needs. Variations in premiums based on age, which can now be as much as a 7 to 1 ratio, will be limited to 3 to 1. State-based exchanges will be created to bring the cost-benefits of group insurance to individuals and families. Those of low to moderate means will receive credits and/or subsidies to keep their premiums at an affordable percentage of their incomes. Out-of-pocket expenses in any year will be limited to approximately $6,000 for individuals and $12,000 for families, and there will be no annual or lifetime limits on coverage.
In other words, this legislation makes available to artists health insurance that is as good or better than the best plans currently available to employees of private corporations, government workers, and union members. Its passage has done more for the health and well-being of the visual and performing arts and entertainment communities than any piece of legislation in the past fifty years.
We will be providing more information on a regular basis to you and our community. For more information, please contact James Brown, Director of Health Services. You can reach him via email at email@example.com or call him directly at 212.221.7300 ext.166.
President and CEO,
The Actors Fund