Connecting Americans to Healthcare

I’ve said it on this platform before, but artists need access to healthcare. In fact, everyone needs access to healthcare, but artists, who often work non-traditional jobs and have sporadic income, especially need the protections of the Affordable Care Act. I know that the ACA is not perfect, and we need to take steps to fix its flaws, but this is important for our creative communities. Just like a quarterback can’t play with a broken collarbone and a point guard can’t shoot with a broken ankle, working in the studio, getting out into community, leading rehearsals, and playing shows are all much harder to do when you are sick or injured.

Now it’s been a wild year on the political front for healthcare and health insurance, and for those of us who do this work, the rollercoaster of proposed plans, limited analysis, late-night votes and executive orders has been enormously stressful. For the average person wondering about where their healthcare is going to come from and how they will be affected, it has also been confounding and confusing. And yet, as we approach open enrollment, much of what we did last year, and have been doing in the years since the rollout of the ACA will remain the same. Each state has its own nuances and offerings, but there are things that you can do to get yourself covered, and to help others in your community get connected to healthcare and insurance.

A health insurance info session at the 2016 Flourish Resource Fair. Photo by Bruce Silcox.

Open enrollment starts November 1. It’s coming right up, and this year it’s important to take care of business early. If you are using the portal, enrollment runs through December 15, and you should know that there are planned outages from 12am-12pm on Sundays through open enrollment. If you are using a state portal, check to see what deadlines you are facing.

Find help if you need it. It’s always good to have a hand navigating your different options, and fortunately, there is an easy way to find people around you who can help. Use the search function of’s Local Help to connect to Assisters who can help you work through options, and agents or brokers who can help you apply or buy coverage.

And remember, health insurance is not the same as healthcare. It’s important to be insured, and so this window of open enrollment is a critical time to build awareness and access to insurance options. In fact, we’ve created a toolkit for hosting Health Fairs to connect people to these kinds of resources.

There are also things from our Healthcare Teeny Toolkit that you can do as an organization or individual to help build access and awareness. Incorporate health care and insurance awareness into what you do regularly – if you’re tabling, or have a program for a show, include local health resources. If you’re performing, tell people to get covered or seek care. Find a community clinic that cares for people without health insurance or works on a sliding income scale – and there are a lot of them – and build a relationship. Before the ACA, Springboard’s Artists’ Access to Healthcare program was focused on that kind of access and building those relationships, and even through the ACA, community clinics are an important resource.

The politicization of health insurance and healthcare isn’t going to go away any time soon, but as artists, creators, and administrators, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and our community. Even in uncertainty, if we approach this work purposefully, making the most of the resources we have, we can get back to the basic business of care, and move this conversation forward.