43% of Musicians In America Lack Any Form of Health Insurance…

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That’s according to a recent survey from the Future of Music Coalition, which found musicians to be ‘chronically under-insured’ and drastically below national (US) insurance averages.  And perhaps unsurprisingly, the more dedicated you are to your craft, the less likely you are to be insured.

The reasons are strikingly simple.  Also unsurprisingly, roughly 88% of all musicians lacking health insurance simply couldn’t afford it.

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One question is what to do about this, and whether doing something would have any tangible impact on cultural output.  The perverse reality seems to be that great music often comes from desperate, poor corners of the world (for example, the Blue from the Mississippi Delta).  The extreme opposite of that can be found in hyper-wealthy corners like Norway, where lushly supported artistic communities aren’t over-producing great artists relative to the rest of the world.

Anton Gunn, Director of External Affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services, firmly feels that government assistance would improve cultural output.   “There’s a fundamental difference in the quality and amount of good, artistic music that can be given to our community, when we have strong and healthy artists,” Gunn asserted during a Future of Music Summit keynote in Washington, DC.

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Gunn, who self-identifies as “I Am Hip-Hop” and grew up in the rap renaissance of Virginia Beach, pointed to painful situations involving hip-hop legends like J. Dilla (died from complications of Moschcowitz syndrome) and Phife Dawg (suffers from Type I Diabetes).  J. Dilla is widely lauded as one of the most influential producers in hip-hop; Phife Dawg is part of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most influential rap groups in history.

“If you’re not well physically or mentally, can you produce the kind of quality you want of in any field, much less music?” Gunn asked.

But there’s also the simple human factor, which looks at artists as humans first, creators of important cultural relics second.  From that lens, it’s clear that musicians are the most likely to to be assisted by Obamacare, and less likely to be generally miserable as a result.  “These results confirm what arts advocates and supporters already know; that US-based artists are much less likely to have health insurance,” said FMC’s Kristin Thomson, one of the authors of the report. “With vast swaths of the artistic community currently uninsured, and many either self-employed, low income, or under 65, self-employed artists are exactly who the Affordable Care Act is designed to help.”

The FOMC survey, concluded over the summer, was coordinated alongside the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC), a project of The Actors Fund.   The full report is here.

21 Responses

  1. Jughead

    Obamacare propaganda. Do what is responsible–get a day job with benefits and pursue your art in your spare time.

    Of course, America is not about being responsible–it’s about getting something for free. All part of the decay…..

    • GGG

      Yea, all those irresponsible jerks who work jobs without benefits! Shame on them!

  2. Erik P

    There’s about to be a lot more joining them since premiums are going UP.

  3. Tune Hunter

    Providers in USA pay themselves to well and invest to much in nice glass buildings and nonsense toys inside.

    Private insurance or Obamacare it will not work.

    Actually medical industry has more nerve and less logic than music industry.

    Big reset and good prices for all coming within five years!

    You cannot charge for a CT scan $4600 in Cleveland if it cost in private outfit for profit in Vienna, Austria $520. Most of the impressive glass buildings will have to foreclose soon!
    Society got defrauded and nobody noticied yet this problematic side of the coin.

  4. QSDC

    Canadian and British musicians seem rather productive per capita. The fact that it’s not as risky to be uninsured almost certainly helps them because they have time to devote to their music.

  5. Tom Riviere

    I lived and worked in the states until I was 39 years old as a musician full time.My wife had a day job that took care of the Health Insurance up to 80% which was enough to carry her and our 2 children.I’ve been very lucky and never been to a hospital for any kind of injure up to now.But since I moved to Europe, America has the biggest Bull Shit system I ever been part of.Let’s put it like this.They are crooks and liars out to make a profit,either your need it or not.

  6. Jughead

    Christ, you people have swallowed the BS socialist agenda hook,line & sinker. America has the best health care system in the world, and it now will “evolve” into the crappy Canadian and European models in no time.

    I get it–you folks want something for free, and you want to hysterically scream corruption and fraud in support of your pathetically lazy position. But, that don’t change the truth…….

    Forge ahead, sheeple.

    • Tom Riviere

      That’s a great name you have.It suits your ignorance.I lived in both countries have you? No.Your like the majority typical brainwashed American.Just talk and

    • Jabsco

      Good point. That doesn’t change the truth. The United States spends 18% of GDP on healthcare vs. 10-12% in European systems for worse health outcomes, we are obviously the best.

      • Tom Riviere

        Well good for you, now you got it.I live in Sweden.I pay 30% of my pay check. and that cover’s everything no matter what condition your in ,prior or now..Transplant,bi pass surgery you name it.It free. American Corporations and the government our taken all of you for a ride.No where in Europe is there such behaviour.I’m sick of the politics in America.Who can you trust?
        You need a revolution to change something.Talk is cheap and too much of it keeps these crooks manipulating us Americans.

    • GGG

      You realize most people still have to PAY for health care, right. There aren’t like gov’t doctors walking around giving free check ups. Maybe actually understand more than about 3% of what you’re talking about before arguing? Just a thought.

    • hippydog

      Just so you know.. using word “socialist” outside of the US doesn’t scare people the way it does in your country..

      • GGG

        99% of the people here who use the word socialist don’t even know what socialism is.

  7. annbee

    Members of the creative community stand to benefit from subsidies to buy insurance in the ACA marketplace. I know a number of musicians who are eager to have access to coverage. Let’s hope FOMC looks at this again in a year.

  8. will

    If you couldn’t afford it before, how can you afford it now? For most people that can provide any kind of income for themselves, ACA is outrageously priced and makes healthcare unaffordable to those who could afford it before. Sorry, DMN, this reads like a shill for the Obama administration and is hardly honest reporting. You’re critical of the industry and movements, but have nothing to say about Obamacare other than it’s good for musicians?

    • TuneHunter

      “If you couldn’t afford it before, how can you afford it now? ”
      …you got it on the nail. Unless it is free to all from the tax base it will not work.
      I have employees who will not take our plan because they “can not afford” $70 co-pay!
      Yes, they will run and buy outright Obamacare – STUPPPID!

  9. Wine Runner

    I and my wife HAVE had to seek emergency medical treatment in both Germany (Frankfort) and Italy (Rome). I wouldn’t wish the experience in Rome on my enemies. Frankfort was good but not to U.S. standards. Just about everyone who likes universal health care tends to forget that it isn’t free. It’s still paid for. You can try to argue it any way you like but the quality of health care does not match the U.S. The U.S. system could easily be improved by simply allowing competition to thrive through selling policies across state lines. It is not the insurance companies that are against this; it is the politicians and lawyers.

    Don’t try to compare Europe with the U.S. Our founding documents (Constitution) are different. No where in the Constitution is health care a “right”. I want to control the money I earn. I don’t need the government to tell me how to do it. I take responsibility for my family. You do the same for yourself instead of looking for a handout.

    • Tune Hunter

      You are very nice guy, but clueless. US system is over invested and very expensive for that reason!

      My own son, March of 2013 skiing trip, major concussion, two days in urgent care in very fine hospital in Nevada – no surgery, no broken bones just tender loving care and EEG, EKG, blood work and urine work 3x a day – $48,000USD (forty eight thousand dollars)
      Stupid insurance paid negotiated $26K and we got stung with almost $4K out of network copays!
      It was more than outright price for hart bypass surgery in Germany


      One EEG was over $500 then over $400 for reading it – possibly some place in India.

      You can go to alibaba.com and buy better EEG tester I seen in this hospital for $350 and with Google
      instruction you EEG yourself 24/7 for free.
      It is a fraud!
      In last 5 years my family and my friends (some of them gone) have been exposed to nonsense beyond imagination.
      If something can be planed you search for best guy and go to Europe. You pay 30K for most complicated surgery done with DaVinci robot with the best guy on the continent doing the surgery.
      Here unless you are Dick Chenney you are just McDonald customer at Mayo or Cleveland Clinic. I would prefer to be with chosen guy in Germany than just regular patient in my home town Cleveland!

      • Tune Hunter

        I forgot few MRIs on that visit!
        Ty best machine, Philips Briliance, cost just million dollars – can give you 3D color scenery of your inside or you can make a virtual trip thru your guts.
        Obama was the first president to have precisie colonoscopy done with this machine without doing it.
        When US grand medical system had two of those Cleveland made machines (one in Bethesda for chosen) Germans had 16 of them located in strategic parts of the country.
        Three years ago I was working on business plan that would place one of them at Caesars Palace in Vegas – machine would be paid for in less than 6 month at just $299 with Blue Ray of your guts as a part of the deal. US legalities would not allow for it!

  10. Kevin Erickson, FMC

    Thanks for reporting on our survey, Paul. Just to clarify one thing, the 43% stat covers artists of all disciplines, including actors, visual artists, etc. If you focus in just on musicians, the stats are even more striking–a full 53% of musicians who responded to our survey don’t have health insurance.