Statement on Arts and The Affordable Care Act
Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was established in 2010, an estimated 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained access to health insurance—including many artists. On March 6, 2017 Congress began consideration of an effort to “repeal and replace” portions of ACA. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported in January 2017 that repealing certain provisions of ACA will result in 18 million Americans losing their healthcare outright, with millions more in subsequent years.
Americans for the Arts stands in opposition to policies that limit the ability of artists and creative workers to acquire and maintain affordable healthcare insurance—be it because of policies that result in individuals and families losing their coverage; higher costs that put quality policies out of reach; or elimination of consumer protections, essential benefits, or minimum standards of care.
Implications for the Arts
Artists have a disproportionately high self-employed rate. They often work multiple jobs in unpredictable, episodic patterns. Prior to enactment of ACA, artists and other individuals with nontraditional employment relationships were often locked out of group healthcare coverage options. This made a healthcare insurance plan more difficult for them to obtain, significantly more expensive, and of lower quality. With ACA in place, however, there is evidence that more artists are insured. American Community Survey data (by the U.S. Census Bureau) shows that among a segment of fully- and recently-employed artists, the share who have health insurance grew from 84 percent in 2013 to 90 percent in 2015—a rise that reflects the impact of ACA.
Like all Americans, artists and creative workers have their own health needs as well as families to support and keep healthy. Artists are a fundamental component of a healthy society and drive the creative economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 2.45 million artists in the U.S. workforce in 2016 (1.6 percent of all workers). Without affordable and accessible healthcare, we risk losing the contributions of this valuable segment of the nation’s workforce because they are unable to both meet the employment needs of their industry and secure proper health insurance. This puts our nation’s creative spirit and a prosperous creative economy at risk.
The Importance of Healthcare to Artists
There is additional evidence that arts workers are already less insured than the general population and stand to fall farther behind if healthcare insurance becomes even more expensive or difficult to access.
- Artists lack insurance: In 2013, the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center and the Future of Music Coalition surveyed U.S. artists about their access to health insurance. Of the 3,402 artist respondents, 43 percent did not have health insurance, a rate much higher than the general population at the time.
- Cost is #1 barrier: Of uninsured respondents, the vast majority (88 percent) say that the primary reason that they don’t have insurance is that they can’t afford it, not that they don’t want insurance.
- Continuing the fight: In 2009, Americans for the Arts, along with 20 national arts service organizations representing thousands of nonprofit arts organizations called for, “better choices for affordable access to universal health coverage” for individual artists, especially the uninsured. A new 2017 healthcare statement supported by 88 national partners is online here.
You Can Make a Difference
- Make your voice heard. We are staying in contact with Congress and the White House on this issue. You should, too. Join the Arts Action Fund to take political action. It’s free. We will send you alerts so you can respond to decision-makers fast.
- Tell your story. In Minnesota, the share of artists without health insurance dropped from 14 percent to 5 percent between 2007-16, with much of that improvement attributed to ACA (Minnesotans for the Arts).
- Be counted! Take two minutes to use our online E-alert to contact your congressional delegation, Vice President Pence and President Trump all at once with a customizable message on this issue.
- You are not alone! Americans for the Arts organizes Arts Advocacy Day, which is cosponsored by 88 national organizations, representing thousands of arts and culture organizations nationwide. Register to attend National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20-21 in Washington, D.C. and you can add your voice in person.