The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has made insurance available to many artists who either could not purchase it or could not afford it before. Many artists qualify for subsidies that bring the cost of insurance down to an affordable range. However, in states that have rejected Medicaid expansion some artists do not qualify for Medicaid, yet earn too little to receive insurance subsidies. There are no easy answers, but artists caught in this Catch-22 who are on the borderline may want to do their best to lower expenses or find some supplemental income that will help them reach an income level
Many insurance plans also come with high deductibles and copays, so it is advisable to try to set some money aside to cover those up front expenses.
Here are some resources to help you get started and weigh healthcare options:
The Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) is a project of The Entertainment Community Fund. It is a source of up-to-date, comprehensive, and unbiased health care resources for artists, performers, freelancers, and the self-employed. Here you can find information about health insurance options in your own state, alternative health care information, and will have information to guide you through the changes in health insurance that will begin in 2014 as a result of health care reform legislation.
Value Penguin comparison of Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Exchange Health Plans: Enter your state and county, annual income level, and whether or not you smoke and find out what your policy options are and their cost before and after subsidies.
How to apply and enroll for health insurance. A step by step guide from healthcare.gov.
Subsidy Calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Find out if you qualify for a health insurance subsidy and estimate how much.
Affordable Care Act: What it Means for You by Jim Brown, Director of Health Services, Actors Fund is the lead article of the August, 2013 issue of CERF+ News summarizes the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) when it was enacted, and what it means for artists.
Health Insurance for the Creative Community: a page of links from a workshop Jim Brown of the Artist’s Health Insurance Resource Center conducted in Nashville, TN in November, 2011. The page includes Jim’s Powerpoint slides.
People without health insurance often pay the highest rates for medical care.
Whether or not you have health insurance you can shop for the best prices on procedures, and negotiate your hospital charges and doctors’ fees. The Healthcare Blue Book can help you determine what are reasonable charges for procedures and has tips on how to negotiate your medical fees. The site will generate printable contracts to get your doctors and facilities to sign with Healthcare Blue Book prices. Shopping around and negotiating can be essential for individuals without health insurance, and can result in significant savings for those with high-deductible insurance plans.