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Musicians and Health Insurance

Interesting study about musicians and health insurance.

May 27, 2010

Washington, D.C.— Musician education, research and advocacy non-profit organization Future of Music Coalition (FMC) has published its findings from a survey of musicians’ access to health insurance, which was conducted in March 2010.

The “Taking the Pulse” survey found that, of the 1,451 respondents, 33 percent said they do not have health insurance. This is nearly twice the national average of 17 percent uninsured, as estimated by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Executive summary and full report available here:

This was an opportune moment to gauge musicians’ access to health insurance. While FMC was running this survey, Congress passed the Affordable Health Care Act, which instituted a number of new protections, tax credits and safety nets for citizens. But, because of this law, health insurance is no longer an option — by 2014, most Americans will be required to secure coverage.

“The data suggests that cost and lack of awareness are still major reasons why many musicians are uninsured,” says FMC Education Director Kristin Thomson. “86 percent the musicians taking our survey who don’t have coverage say it’s because they can’t afford it. But our experience advising musicians through our HINT program has also shown us that some musicians who think they can’t afford coverage may not be aware of all the public and private health insurance options available to them.”

The results also underscore the structural barriers that musicians face in navigating a health insurance system that’s largely structured around employer-provided coverage. Musicians and artists often work on a freelance basis — performing or composing for specific events, albums or projects — with compensation based on a contracted arrangement. Since they are usually not employees of any particular institution or corporation, they must seek out individualhealth insurance policies. Some music organizations, unions and service organizations offer group plans to their members, but the survey data suggests that musicians’ awareness of these plans is low, although they would join an organization to get coverage.

On May 25, Future of Music Coalition delved into the effect of the health care reform legislation on musicians during a panel at its D.C. Policy Day 2010. Panelists included experts from the health insurance and arts and culture fields, including Adam Huttler from Fractured Atlas, Renata Marinaro from The Actors Fund, and Alex Maiolo, project manager for FMC’s HINT program. HINT doesn’t sell insurance — it instead helps musicians better understand their health insurance options through free, confidential phone consultations with one of FMC’s health insurance experts (who are also musicians).

Webcast of the panel

Panel coverage from Digital Music News:

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