By Stephanie Wolf, courtesy of Dance Informa.com.
A dancer’s ability to work and earn income is dependent on optimal health and physical condition. Therefore, proper healthcare is essential for longevity in the dance profession. But, unfortunately, many American dancers are under or uninsured due to the rising costs of healthcare and the complexity of applying for an insurance plan. Finding affordable health insurance is a dizzying feat, especially for freelance dancers who lack the option of obtaining insurance through their employers. The Internet is inundated with information and the nation’s capital is all a buzz with talk of healthcare reform, but what does it all mean?
Many dancers fall into the 10 to 11% of Americans who get their insurance through the individual healthcare market and dancers are amongst the highest percentage of uninsured artists. High premiums make it challenging to find the right plan. Additionally, because of the intense physicality of the dance profession, many dancers have difficulty getting approved for a plan because of a pre-existing condition. Organizations such as the Actor’s Fund, Media Bistro, TEIGIT, the Freelancer’s Union, and other artist-based unions provide tools and resources for healthcare options, playing a role in ensuring the health of American artists.
The Actor’s Fund (AF) is at the forefront of this cause – helping more than 400,000 performers every year gain access to healthcare – and gears a lot of their services towards dancers. Since 1998, AF has worked with dancers, and now has several comprehensive online tools and one-to-one counseling options to help dancers continue to perform at their best. One tool is the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC), which provides listings for workshops, counseling, and an online database of plans, subsidized healthcare, and government programs for each state. Spearheading these programs is AF’s Director of Healthcare Services James Brown who has an extensive background in health insurance and is a healthcare regulator in New Jersey.
Currently, AF is conducting a large dancer healthcare initiative through a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation. The project involves workshops and seminars in 10 dance-centric cities around the country: Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Brown will conduct the workshops and engage with both dancers and people who run dance organizations in conversations about the laws and availability of health insurance in each of their corresponding cities. AF is also working on creating webinars for those that can’t attend the workshops . . . read more at danceinforma.com