Dave Lamb was on tour in Houston with his folk duo Brown Bird when he found himself struggling just to get through a song. He’d been feeling fatigued for several shows, but this time seemed serious. He and MorganEve Swain, his partner in the Rhode Island-based group, went to a hospital, and Lamb was eventually diagnosed with leukemia. He didn’t have health insurance.
Lamb’s experience is documented as part of a new series of videos from voter-registration nonprofit HeadCount and the U.S. government’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Along with the visuals, the two groups have partnered to set up a hotline, (919) 264-0418, specifically aimed at informing musicians about their health-care options. In coordination with the program, more than 20 musical acts — among them Pearl Jam and Jim James — used social media to tell fans they should “#knowyouroptions” about health insurance viaHealthCare.gov.
Musicians in general are less likely to be insured than the rest of the population, and they’re as confused as anybody about what the Affordable Care Act means for them. A 2013 surveyby the Future of Music Coalition and Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center found that of more than 3,400 actors, musicians, visual artists, dancers, and filmmakers polled, 43 percent had no health insurance — twice the estimated national rate. Musicians were the least likely to be insured, and the more time they spend on music, the less likely they were to have insurance. Meanwhile, about 59 percent of musicians surveyed said they don’t understand Obamacare or are unsure how it will affect them.