Freelance Artists in California and Healthcare.
Yeah, I should be updating my sketchbook.
Regardless, as artists, especially freelancers, many of us may find it problematic to find affordable healthcare for ourselves and our families. Often if you are doing contract or freelance work, as I am, there is no healthcare option unless you are employed fulltime by a company that offers a health plan. Some say "screw it! Don't get sick!" However you may find yourself in a bit of trouble like my pal Groover McNab who was saddled with a $15,000 hospital bill (I stand corrected!) after breaking his arm. He at that point didn't have healthcare. You might also find yourself in a position like another contract worker friend of mine who is currently being sued by her health provider because they contest that her debilitating back problem was pre-existent when she signed up for health care, which it was not. These, among other problems are the inherent flaws of managed care. About 40 Million Americans currently do not have health coverage, many of them children.
So, like myself and my girlfriend, you can shell out approximately $300 dollars a month, (not counting the price of prescriptions) and be able to insure against catastrophic illness and keep your allergies in check, or you can go without and suffer, and if injured or stricken with illness, be in dept for the rest of your life. Back in my home state of New York there is a new program providing healthcare to those who cannot afford it called Child and Family Health Plus, which has been extremely beneficial. Being that both of us currently pay up the nose for healthcare, (taking approximately $3600 from us each per year) I've been looking for a better solution.
This is where I get off my soapbox to inform my fellow Californians about an interesting initiative I have discovered. Currently, there is a bill in the California State Senate called SB 840. It would effectively dismantle the private run healthcare system in California and replace it (keeping the organizations of Kaiser, Blue Cross, etc in place) with a large Non-Profit organization that would provide universal healthcare for all Californians.
The organization surrounding this bill can be located here..
There you can take a look at the proposed initiative. This is not so much a current option for healthcare as it is an opportunity for activism. I'm not trying to raise a discussion or debate on this issue; I am mainly just trying to arouse interest in the artistic community as California has a wealth of artists who do not have access to healthcare due to contract work.
Undeniably there is a healthcare crisis across the nation as there is in California, and its long term implications are vastly important. For many people having guaranteed healthcare would liberate more disposable income, it would encourage the increase of preventative care rather than reactive, and it would prevent bankruptcy as much financial tribulation is caused in families which have seen a member incur excessive healthcare bills. I would like to inform my fellow Californian artists and encourage them to take the issue up with their legislators and see what they can do to spread word of the initiative. This issue affects me personally and I can guarantee it affects any artist not employed by a company which offers health plans.
I would be interested in speaking with anyone who might have an idea of how to raise awareness and fight back against the eventual lobbying frenzy that will ensue when the HMO's begin to react.
Sorry to bring politics back into the lounge, but I consider this issue extremely pertinent to us as Californians and as artists. In addition I believe we as artists posses a compassion and sensitivity that warrants support of such an initiative for the benifit of all.