‘Money and pills in three colors’ by Ragesoss. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
BALTIMORE, MD.,—At the recent Country Music Awards (CMAs), Co-host Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood mocked Obamacare. Singing a song with some unflattering lyrics, they presented Obamacare as a joke. Their ridiculing of the Affordable Care Act is not surprising. Since the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare was enacted about three years ago, it has been the bedrock of controversies. From the accusations of death panels to the killing of grandmother, every effort has been made by the tea party and other opponents of the Affordable Care Act to repeal or defund Obamacare. In the Republican-led house of representative, for instance, there have been over 46 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The appalling role out of the Obamacare has made the debate even more intense. Besides the torrent of condemnation exemplified by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood during the CMAs show, the Affordable Care Act has been scorned with disdain by more than 35% of Americans. In congress and on the streets there has been an intense cry to repeal Obamacare. The computer glitches that plagued Healthcare.gov, which have made it difficult for people to register for the Affordable Healthcare, has brought even more unprecedented criticisms of the Obama administration even from the supporters of the Affordable Care Act. The argument is that if Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo can run websites successfully why can’t the government.
After many unflattering debates and unprecedented castigation in congress, the Obama Administration recently promised that Healthcare.gov, the epileptic website where people are expected to sign up, will be fixed by the end of November. In spite of all the controversies surrounding the Obamacare legislation, there is no doubt that young artists and creative people have a lot to benefit from the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. While the healthcare bill is not perfect and needs tweaking to make it work well, there is a lot of artists and creative people can benefit from the new healthcare law. With rising health care cost, there is no doubt that artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, website designers, graphic designers, actors, interior designers, musicians and many others in the creative field have a lot to gain from Obamacare.
For years now, health insurance companies have denied many young artists health coverage because of pre-existing conditions and gender. Insurance companies define pre-existing condition as “any health problem or issues an individual may have before applying for a health insurance.” Pre-existing condition could be mental or physical. This could include asthma, diabetes, injuries from accidents, fever, pimples etc. The financial bottom line is the key reason health insurance companies have denied people with pre-existing conditions healthcare insurance. For the health insurance companies, it is very difficult to make money from insuring people with pre-existing conditions. Those with pre-existing condition who have, however, been lucky to get health coverage are either paying exorbitant premium or high out of pocket expenses. However, starting from 2014, insurance companies can no longer prevent artists and people with pre-existing condition from getting health insurance or health coverage. Even if they have been refused health insurance before because of a pre existing condition, it will be against the law for any insurance company to deny anyone insurance. No artists or individuals will be denied health coverage for being sick, turned down or charged more because of their health conditions.
Unlike in the past when young artists between 19 and 25 were required to get their own health insurance because they were too old to be under their parents’ health insurance, artists can now stay on their parents or guardians health insurance until they are 26 years old. This is one less problem for young artists to worry about. Data have shown that between the age of 16 and 18, many young artists are still living with their parents because they cannot afford to rent a studio or rent an apartment. Besides many are still in school or working menial jobs. The fact that they can stay on their parent’s insurance until they are 26 years old provides greater opportunity to focus on creating great works of art and expanding their creativity. This provision under the Affordable Care Act is very important because this is the age when young artists are most adventurous and would do everything to excel in the art marketplace.
Like many young people, young artists often think they are invincible and do not think they can fall sick or suffer any catastrophic event. Sadly, that is like living in a fool’s paradise. It is not unusual for artists to be involved in disastrous events. It is a well-documented fact that artists have falling from scaffolding during mural projects, while some have even been involved in car accidents and other forms of disasters. In 2010, for instance, the actor playing spider man or his stunt double fell from about 8 to 10 feet during the performance of Spider –Man: Turn Off the Dark at the Broadway’s Foxwoods Theatre. This is an example of one of the dangers artists face in their career.
For artists over 30 who have exceeded the opportunity of staying under their parents’ health insurance, they have several options under the Affordable Care Act now known as Obamacare. One option is to purchase minimum health coverage or what has been termed “catastrophic” health plan Obamacare marketplace. The catastrophic health plan helps fulfill the mandatory aspect of the Affordable Care Act that every individual must have health insurance. It also helps prevent penalty for the uninsured as stipulated in the Obamacare regulations. But more importantly, the catastrophic policy is essential in case an artist suffers a catastrophic event, including car accident, falling off the stage during a performance or scaffolding while painting a mural. The catastrophic health plan was put in place to cater for these unforeseen calamitous occurrences.
Besides the catastrophic health plan, artists under 30 who can show prove that they are going through hardship, making it impossible for them to get even the most basic health insurance can get minimum insurance in most states. In most states, these insurance policies have very low premium. The minimum plan coverage is specifically planned to meet the needs of young people. Low-income individuals or starving artists and all those who are able to prove that they will be spending more than 8 percent of their income on conventional health issuance will get some reprieve under Obamacare.
The Minimum Healthcare Plan was specifically designed to meet all the requirements for health care coverage in the individual market. Under the Minimum Plan, young artists will be covered for three primary care visits per year for which there is no co-payment. After the stipulated three visits, however, the individual will have to pay for every additional visit or care.
One of the major benefits of the Minimum Plan is the preventive service that comes with it. It is mandatory for health insurance companies to provide preventive services alongside any health plan. Young artists will benefit immensely from these preventive services which include blood pressure test, diabetes, cholesterol, and cancer screenings. Also, young artists suffering from physical, psychiatric and mental issues requiring counseling can get them under the preventive services. Counseling could include ways of losing weight, eating healthy, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use and depression. There are also provisions for flu shots and routine vaccination amongst many others under the preventive services. Obamacare also ensures that female artists have access to birth control, annual Mammograms, and voluntary sterilization.
The minimum plan has adequate provisions for young artists facing hardship or starving artists. Artists, who are homeless or have been evicted from their studio/home in past six months, can claim hardship exception during enrollment at the Affordable Care marketplace. In addition, artists facing eviction or foreclosure can claim hardship exception from the enrollment requirement at Obamacare marketplace. Artists suffering these other forms of hardship can get hardship exception under the Affordable Care Act:
Besides all the aforementioned benefits, it is important to note that many young artists between the age of 18 and 34 will be eligible for some tax credits to help them offset the cost of their new health premium, while others may be eligible for discounts to make private insurance affordable. For many young artists, the tax credit is some kind of relief because it makes health coverage available for artists who have hitherto been priced out of the health care and coverage they needed. Above all, artists can now go and see a doctor immediate they are unwell instead of delaying as many have done in the past because they had no health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act provides a great opportunity for creative people to move from one job to another. Artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, website designers, graphic designers, actors, interior designers, musicians and many others in the creative field can now move from one job to another without the fear of losing their health insurance coverage or not having one. Unlike in the past when young artists stay on the same job for years because of the fear that they may lose their health coverage, creative people can now move and even start their own businesses. Many young artists and creative people as well new art graduates who want to start their own businesses will be able to get help paying their insurance premium.
With all the confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act presently, it is easy for many young artists to dismiss the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and not enroll for health coverage. There are several consequences for not signing up. Young artists, who decide not to enroll for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, will pay a penalty which will be collected by IRS. Although the penalty is not excessive in the first year, it accumulates over time to an unbearable level. Additionally, it is important for young artists to know that without a health insurance, any catastrophic event could lead to bankruptcy or mountainous debts. And, since there is no alternative, it is better to be safe than sorry. Unlike movie stars, famous artists, celebrities and famous musicians like Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood who are rich enough to afford any form of health insurance they want, starving artists, photographers, actors, graphic designers, and other creative people must look for the best way to get health coverage. Presently, Obamacare provides that opportunity.
For almost four years now, Republicans have done their best to repeal the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. For almost sixty times, they have tried and failed in their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. However, with the election of Donald Trump, a republican, and the takeover of the Congress, Republicans now have the chance and all the power to dismantle Obamacare. They know this and are ceasing time by the forelock, doing all they can to ensure that the repeal of the health care law happens now.
They started the process as soon as Congress reconvened early this year. They began by making provisions to defund the law. The next move is to dismantle the mandate that stipulates that every American must have health insurance or pay a fine.
As the move to undo the Affordable Health Care continues, there is a great fear among many people who are benefitting from the law. A cloud of uncertainty about what happens after the repeal of Obamacare hangs over the heads of republicans.
Although republicans have been talking about repeal and replace, there is no clear indication that they have any plan at hand. Even many republicans understand the quandary and are uncertain how to play their hands.
As republicans contemplate what their next move should be, there are real life consequences for their actions. If there is no immediate replacement for almost the 12 million people benefiting from Obamacare, the consequences may be devastating. Many of the benefits listed in this article will be gone in the twinkle of an eye. Artists as well as many other Americans may end up without a health insurance or health care they need.