Our knowledgeable and dedicated staff at The Actors Fund‘s Artist Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) continues to accomplish a stunning amount of work, research, and advocacy for the countless individuals hoping to demystify the mysteries of health insurance–especially when it comes to people working in the performing arts and entertainment. The latest issue of our twice-yearly newsletter Marquee highlights the work they’ve done (and shares the story of a few of the clients they helped) so we thought we’d share the brief introductions to each of our amazing staff members–as well as just a few of their accomplishments–on the blog. Feel free to check out the pdf of the entire issue here, and if you’d like to receive Marquee in the mail, become a member!
350,000 Web Visitors
AHIRC.org Web Content Developer
“AHIRC.org has about 350,000 visitors a year. I make sure our 5,000 links are current and accurate and the information is as streamlined and clear as possible. It’s challenging, but also rewarding knowing that even one link with the right information will help someone connect to affordable health care.”
L.M.S.W. Health Insurance Counselor
“We counsel more than 2,000 clients a year, in New York, LA and across the country. Many of our clients say they feel overwhelmed and confused about health insurance costs and coverage. It’s really satisfying to be able to reach out to them, listen to their needs, and help them navigate through the morass of information and choices.”
118 Health Care Seminars
AHIRC’s team of health insurance experts, through partnerships with local arts organizations, continues to reach out nationally to performing arts and entertainment professionals, as well as visual artists, with seminars and workshops that help to explain how health care reform offers new and affordable options for coverage. In 2011, we went on tour, conducting 118 seminars (85 in LA and NYC, and 33 nationwide.)
29 Stage Manager City Directories
This online resource provides touring companies with a list of doctors and health professionals in 29 cities, all recommended by theaters, stage managers, actors and others in the entertainment industry. Available at actorsfund.org/stagemanagers.
18 Health Care Guides
Our 18 brief city guides on getting affordable health care and health insurance outline public and private health insurance options in a practical Q & A format, and include contact information for selected clinics and pharmacies. All of them are available at www.ahirc.org/health_care_guides.
10 Dancer Health Care Seminars
DHIRC.org is our website devoted specifically to providing dancers with all the information they need to find the best and most affordable health insurance available to them. In 2011, we offered seminars in 10 major US dance centers. Visit DHIRC.org.
2 Virtual Health Care Seminars
M.S.W., Director of Health Services, Western Region
“We’re constantly looking for ways to reach more people and get them insured. In addition to in-person visits to cities across the west coast, last year we ran two virtual health insurance seminars—one for the State of Pennsylvania and another in collaboration with Artist Trust in Seattle. We reached 77 people with health care reform and health insurance information, all via online connection. We had a great response, and we’re still following-up with attendees via phone and email counseling.”
2 Health Care Policy Testimonies
L.M.S.W., Director of Health Services, Eastern Region
“Last year I testified at The Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, DC, and this January the New York City Council heard our testimony on increasing artists’ access to health insurance. We also gave a health care seminar again this year at one of the largest music and film festivals in the country, South by Southwest in Austin, TX. So our national presence in really growing.” Read Renata’s NYC Council testimony here.
100% Coverage by 2014!
National Director of Health Services
“We want visual and performing artists and entertainment professionals to have the same access to quality, affordable health care as teachers, business people and politicians. Our goal is to have 100% of them with comprehensive health insurance by 2014.”
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
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!
President and CEO,
The Actors Fund