It’s time to change the tune on health insurance.
In January 2008, Drew Glackin, multi-instrumentalist and bassist for Bloodshot Records’ band The Silos, died at 44 of an extremely treatable disease because, like so many working musicians, he couldn’t afford (or thought he couldn’t afford) health insurance.
To ease the financial burden on his family, Drew’s bandmates and peers did what they could: they organized and performed at a handful of benefit shows that honored Drew’s memory and raised a bit of money.
More recently, Bloodshot band The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir had a serious van accident in which most members were injured. Five of the six had insurance, but their bills are nonetheless mounting due to out-of-pocket costs and loss of income. Once again the music community has rallied behind artists in need.
Yet the never-ending story of artists putting on concerts to help ailing peers is a tired tune. After the money has been counted, the guitars packed away and the amps rolled back to the van, we still have the same basic problem: Not enough musicians are insured.
A 2003 survey of 2,700 U.S. musicians conducted by Future of Music Coalition found that 45 percent lacked adequate health coverage. The reasons are not entirely unexpected: In addition to cost, many musicians put off getting health insurance because they assume it’s unattainable or they don’t know where to start. Many think it’s something that they can’t afford now and will have to wait and get later. But that “later” can come pretty quick if your tour van hits a patch of ice.