In July and August 2013, Future of Music Coalition (FMC) and the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) conducted an online survey of US-based artists about their access to health insurance.The survey found that, of the 3,402 artist respondents, 43 percent do not currently have health insurance. This is more than double the national estimate of 18 percent uninsured (ages 0-64), as calculated by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Of those respondents who do have health insurance (N=1927), 39 percent said they are paying for coverage themselves. This is over six times greater than the estimated 6 percent of the general population that pays for private, non-group insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Of uninsured respondents, the vast majority – 88% – say that the primary reason that they don’t have insurance is that they can’t afford it.
The report and slides below provide more data collected from over 3,400 US-based artists — dancers, actors, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers — who participated in the Artists and Health Insurance Survey between July 15 and August 31, 2013. The data confirms what arts organizations and artists have known all along; that artists have limited access to affordable health insurance under the existing empoyer-based systems.
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 individual health insurance policies. But these individual health policies are expensive, and artists’ varying income from month-to-month makes it more difficult to consistently afford premium payments. The combination of self-employment, varying income, and lower household income has make it much more difficult for artists to get and obtain affordable health insurance.
This was an important moment to take a snapshot of artists’ access to health insurance. In 2010, 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; most Americans will need to secure coverage by 2014.
Released on the opening of the health insurance exchanges, FMC and AHIRC see this data as a clear and timely snapshot of the American artist community. With vast swaths of the 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. We hope that this data not only provides an up-to-date picture of artists’ challenges and aspirations, but as a vital benchmark in the rollout of the ACA itself.
Health Insurance Coverage of Nonelderly 0-64, Kaiser Family Foundation, (2011 Census data) http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/nonelderly-0-64/
 Health Insurance Coverage of Nonelderly 0-64, Kaiser Family Foundation, (2011 Census data) http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/nonelderly-0-64/
Artists and Health Insurance
A task force of musician and artist advocacy organizations are working together to help artists and musicians learn more about the changes and take action on health care. Artists are invited to visit http://health.futureofmusic.org, a collection of artist-friendly resource. The website includes an FAQ, a list of artist-focused educational events and seminars, and links to videos, online calculators, and Q&As. The website also encourages artists to email their questions to healthcare [at] headcount [dot] org or to call an artist-friendly hotline at 1-919-264-0418.
Get the HINT
In 2005, FMC teamed up with Alex Maiolo and Chris Stephenson to create HINT – the Health Insurance Navigation Tool. HINT provides informed, musician-friendly support and advice to musicians who need information about health insurance, for free.
Prior FMC Research
Taking the Pulse: survey on health insurance and musicians
In March 2010, Future of Music Coalition conducted an online survey to gauge the level of health insurance among musicians. The survey found that, of the 1,451 respondents, 33 percent said they do not have health insurance.
Health Insurance and Musicians
In 2002, FMC released the results of an online survey to gauge the level of health insurance among working musicians. The survey found that, of the nearly 2,700 respondents, 44 percent of them did not have health insurance. This report details the results of the survey, discusses the grave consequences of having so many creators uninsured in America and articulates FMC’s plan to tackle the issue on behalf of musicians.