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Health Coverage For Musicians

Health Care Reform

A 2010 Future of Music Coalition survey found that 34% of the 1,400 musicians surveyed didn't have health insurance — twice the national average. Congress has succeeded in passing a health care reform bill, but what does it mean for “real musicians” — namely, those artists and songwriters trying to make a living in a time of unprecedented economic challenge? What will the bill do to expand coverage for the creative class, and what do musicians and their advocates need to know to take advantage of new opportunities? Advocates for musicians will join with health policy experts to discuss key elements of this landmark legislation and how we're going to get all musicians insured by 2014.

Adam Huttler Executive Director, Fractured Atlas
Alex Maiolo HINT Program Coordinator, Future of Music Coalition
Renata Marinaro Manager, Health Services Education and Outreach, The Actors Fund

The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, more commonly referred to as the "healthcare bill" 2010

1. Your Kids are Covered

Starting 2010, if you have an adult child who cannot get health insurance from his or her employer and is to some degree dependent on you financially, your child can stay on your insurance policy until he or she is 26 years old. Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents' plan once they reach 19 or leave school.

2. You Can't be Dropped

Starting this fall, your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to "drop" you (cancel your policy) if you get sick. In 2009, "rescission" was revealed to be a relatively common cost-cutting practice by several insurance companies. The practice proved to be common enough to spur several lawsuits; for example, in 2008 and 2009, California's largest insurers were made to pay out more than $19 million in fines for dropping policyholders who fell ill.

3. You Can't be Denied Insurance

Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. Health insurance companies will also be barred from denying adults applying for coverage if they have a pre-existing condition, but not until 2014

4. You Can Spend What You Need to

Prior to the new law, health insurance companies set a maximum limit on the monetary amount of benefits that a policyholder could receive. This meant that those who developed expensive or long-lasting medical conditions could run out of coverage. Starting this year, companies will be barred from instituting caps on coverage.

5. You Don't Have to Wait

If you currently have pre-existing conditions that have prevented you from being able to qualify for health insurance for at least six months you will have coverage options before 2014. Starting this fall, you will be able to purchase insurance through a state-run "high-risk pool", which will cap your personal out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. You will not be required to pay more than $5,950 of your own money for medical expenses; families will not have to pay any more than $11,900.

6. You Must be Insured

Under the new law starting in 2014, you will have to purchase health insurance or risk being fined. If your employer does not offer health insurance as a benefit or if you do not earn enough money to purchase a plan, you may get assistance from the government. The fines for not purchasing insurance will be levied according to a sliding scale based on income. Starting in 2014, the lowest fine would be $95 or 1% of a person's income (whichever is greater) and then increase to a high of $695 or 2.5% of an individual's taxable income by 2016. There will be a maximum cap on fines.

7. You'll Have More Options

Starting in 2014 (when you will be required by law to have health insurance), states will operate new insurance marketplaces - called "exchanges" - that will provide you with more options for buying an individual policy if you can't get, or afford, insurance from your workplace and you earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, millions of low- and middle-income families (earning up to $88,200 annually) will be able to qualify for financial assistance from the federal government to purchase insurance through their state exchange.

8. Flexible Spending Accounts Will Become Less Flexible

Three years from now, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) will have lower contribution limits - meaning you won't be able to have as much money deducted from your paycheck pre-tax and deposited into an FSA for medical expenses as is currently allowed. The new maximum amount allowed will be $2,500. In addition, fewer expenses will qualify for FSA spending. For example, you will no longer be able to use your FSA to help defray the cost of over-the-counter drugs.

9. If You Earn More, You'll Pay More

Starting in 2018, if your combined family income exceeds $250,000 you are going to be taking less money home each pay period. That's because you will have more money deducted from your paycheck to go toward increased Medicare payroll taxes. In addition to higher payroll taxes you will also have to pay 3.8% tax on any unearned income, which is currently tax-exempt.

10. Medicare May Cover More or Less of Your Expenses

Starting this year, if Medicare is your primary form of health insurance you will no longer have to pay for preventive care such as an annual physical, screenings for treatable conditions or routine laboratory work. In addition, you will get a $250 check from the federal government to help pay for prescription drugs currently not covered as a result of the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole".

However, if you are a high-income individual or couple (making more than $85,000 individually or $170,000 jointly), your prescription drug subsidy will be reduced. In addition, if you are one of the more than 10 million people currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you may be facing higher premiums because your insurance company's subsidy from the federal government is going to be dramatically reduced.

Health Coverage
for Musicians:

eHealth, Inc. parent company of the leading online source of health insurance for individuals, families, and small businesses, announced a partnership with TuneCore, a leading online provider of marketing and distribution services for independent musicians. TuneCore and eHealth have collaborated to create a free informational download of the TuneCore Music Industry Survival Manual: Information on Healthcare for Musicians.
eHealth Insurance will provide any TuneCore Artist a dedicated toll free number to answer any and all questions on healthcare. There is no obligation of any kind. In the event you would like healthcare, we want to provide access to a plan that works for you.


Application for the HEALTH ALLIANCE FOR AUSTIN MUSICIANS (HAAM) (512) 322-5177

Actors Fund, Los Angeles 323-933-9244
Eligibility: 5 years of work with $6500+/year in 3 of the last 5 years or $5K in 10 out of 20 years. Helps many types of performers.

Blues Foundation, HART Fund, Memphis, TN
Began in 2003, providing $ aid to Blues musicians and families due to health concerns. Grants for healthcare and funeral expenses.

Jazz Musicians' Emergency Fund, New York 212-245-3999
Assists jazz musicians 50 years + (and younger musicians affected by Katrina if they have dependents)

Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. 919-643-2456
Must be rooted in Southern musical tradition, 55 years + with annual income under $18K. Financial aid for food, shelter, medical, etc. Also instrument acquisition and tour support.

MusiCares, Los Angeles 800-687-4227 or 310-392-3777
$ aid with basic needs, medical and substance abuse rehabilitation. Eligibility: 5 years in the music industry or 6 commercially released recordings or music videos.

Professional Musicians Local 47 323-993-3159
Eligibility: must be active member in good standing.

Professional Musicians Local 47, Foundation 323-993-3182
Foundation fund available to ALL professional musicians/singers. Union membership NOT required. Call for application, supporting documents required.

Rhythm & Blues Foundation
Grants for R&B artists (& surviving spouses) on Universal and its labels.

Society of Singers, Inc. 818-995-7100 x104
Eligibility: professional singer for 5 years. Financial aid with basic necessities and medical expenses.

Southern California Blues Society 714-209-7347
Provides immediate assistance to blues performers to help defray the burden of medical costs and other expenses in criis. Artist presents request at a board meeting.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund 888-955-7880
Young musicians must have medical condition inhibiting ability to work. $ aid for medical expenses or living expenses for semi-retired out of work musicians.