Artists are less likely to have health insurance than the general US population, with cost and affordability as the prevailing factors, according to results from a recent survey.
In July and August 2013, Future of Music Coalition (FMC) and the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC), a project of The Actors Fund, conducted an online survey of US-based artists of all disciplines about their access to health insurance.
The survey found that:
* Of the 3,402 artist respondents, 43% do not currently have health insurance. This is more than double the national estimate of 18% uninsured (ages 0-64), as calculated by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
* Of those respondents who do not have health insurance, the vast majority – 88% – say that the primary reason is that they can’t afford it.
* Of those respondents who do have health insurance (N=1,927), 39% said they are paying for coverage themselves. This is over six times greater than the estimated 6% of the general population that pays for private, non-group insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The percentage of self-insured climbs to 51% for those respondents who spend 40 hours or more a week doing their craft.
The findings, documented in this report, illustrate the challenges artists face; as self-employed or freelance workers with variable incomes, many are simultaneously not eligible for employer-based coverage and have difficulty affording individual health insurance purchased on the open market.
Artists were also asked about their knowledge of the Affordable Care Act, and whether they plan to change their coverage as the program is implemented. Responses suggest that artists — like many Americans — are confused about the ACA’s provisions and unsure about how it will impact them and their families, but are hopeful that the new policies will make coverage more affordable and easier to obtain.
“These results confirm what arts advocates and supporters already know; that US-based artists are much less likely to have health insurance,” said FMC’s Kristin Thomson, one of the report’s authors. “With vast swaths of the artistic community currently uninsured, and many either self-employed, low income, or under 65, self-employed artists are exactly who the Affordable Care Act is designed to help.”
The survey results are one part of a multi-pronged effort to focus attention on artists’ health care issues. FMC and AHIRC have joined together with a task force in collaborating on a website at http://health.futureofmusic.org that provides links to an artist-friendly FAQ, resources, events and seminars.
The effort also includes a dedicated hotline at(919) 264-0418, managed by the non-profit organization HeadCount, that anyone in the arts community can call with health insurance questions or for hands-on assistance.
FMC will also welcome Anton Gunn, Regional Director at the Region IV Office of the. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to its 12th annual Future of Music Summit in Washington, DC on October 28. For press credentials for this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.