Affordable Care Act to Be a Boon to Performing Arts Workers

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06 Jul 2012

Joseph P. Benincasa
Joseph P. Benincasa
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

When the Supreme Court, on June 28, upheld President Obama's Affordable Care Act by a vote of 5 to 4, pundits on both sides of the issue—pro and con—declared the legislation would affect the lives of every citizen in the union.

If that is so, what impact will it make on members of the performing arts profession?

Joseph P. Benincasa, president and CEO of the Actors Fund, had no doubts about the effect. On the day of the decision—which stunned many who thought the conservative-leaning court would strike down the Obama administration's signature, and most controversial, piece of lawmaking—he issued a press release saying, “Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is good news for all artists."

Certainly, actors and other theatre professionals are among the most chronically underemployed and uninsured workers in the United States. Any little bit of outside assistance helps in sustaining a life in the arts. And, according to Jim Brown, National Director of Health Services at the Actors Fund, the ACA will offer more than a little bit.

"It's as if it's written for people in our industry!" he said of the ACA.

Across the nation, between 60 and 70 percent get their insurance through their place of employment, Brown explained. Another 20 percent receive insurance through Medicare and Medicaid. That leaves something like ten to 15 percent who are left to their own devices in the individual health-care market.

Double that figure and you get a rough estimate of the number of actors and other theatre workers who are uninsured.

"We've been working for this for a long time," said Brown. "The Actors Fund has had an artists insurance resource center since 1998. We have a free clinic as well. The number of people uninsured in entertainment and performing arts is tremendous. It's been estimated at twice that found in the general population, so it's at about 30-32 percent are uninsured."


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