The advocacy group Americans for the Arts and 20 other nonprofit arts organizations today called on Congress to pass legislation that will create a public insurance option for individual artists, according to a statement from the coalition.
“Like others who have fallen through the cracks of the current system, many in the cultural workforce work independently or operate in nontraditional employment relationships, leaving them locked out of group healthcare coverage options,” says the statement. “Additionally, soaring health care costs are consuming the ever decreasing budgets of nonprofit arts organizations hit hard by today’s economic recession.”
In Minnesota, about 14 percent of artists are uninsured, according to Artists Count, a 2007 survey conducted by Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. That rate is nearly double the state’s overall uninsured rate.
“It’s a huge issue for artists because of their high rate of self-employment plus their low income, which makes health insurance really, really difficult to afford,” Springboard for the Arts executive director Laura Zabel told Minnpost last August.
St. Paul-based Springboard has developed an Artists’ Access to Health Care program, a joint project with the Neighborhood Involvement Program that offers low-cost vouchers for health-care services and free screening at health fairs.
The coalition’s statement to Congress includes these requests:
• “A health care reform bill that will create a public health insurance option for individual artists, especially the uninsured, and create better choices for affordable access to universal health coverage without being denied because of pre-existing conditions.
• “A health care reform bill that will help financially-strapped nonprofit arts organizations reduce rising health insurance costs to cover their employees without cuts to existing benefits and staff while the economy recovers.
• “A health care reform bill that will enable smaller nonprofit and unincorporated arts groups to afford to cover part and full-time employees for the first time.
• “A health care reform bill that will support arts in health care programs, which have shown to be effective methods of prevention and patient care.”