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A Call For Action on Health Care for Artists

December 12, 2023
By Staff

Everyone deserves basic human dignity – which includes access to health insurance and affordable health care. Artists, many of whom are part-time and gig workers, are often not afforded the same legal protections as W-2 employees. For too long, artists have been left out of the systems that protect most workers because so much of their work is not full-time or permanent. They are ineligible for benefits like unemployment insurance and access to affordable healthcare coverage. 

This week marked Universal Health Coverage Day, a call to mobilize for strong, equitable health systems that leave no one behind. This movement is about ensuring that all people, everywhere, can get the quality health services they need without financial hardship. All people deserve to have access to high-quality healthcare without facing the financial burden that can come with falling ill or injured. In our Portrait of NYS Artists survey earlier this year, about two-thirds of artists said that if an unexpected $400 emergency came up today, they would not be able to pay for it without using credit. Providing artists with the coverage they need is crucial to ensuring that everyone, especially those with contract or part-time positions, is able to afford services like doctor’s visits and emergency room visits. 

In New York state specifically, artists are living on the edge of economic insecurity – meaning that many are one emergency away from financial ruin. Despite the billions of dollars the arts and culture sector contributes to New York State’s economy, many artists live without access to health insurance, especially as medical costs continue to rise. According to data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services, New Yorkers’ average growth in per capita personal healthcare spending was highest at 6.1 percent per year compared to the national average of 4.3. 

This week, in honor of Universal Health Coverage Day, we are calling for affordable and available health care for artists. Our leaders here in New York State and all over the world must enact policies that guarantee access to affordable and quality healthcare for all. Artists cannot be an afterthought in the fight for healthcare access. Many artists already carry debt, and health care should not be an added financial burden. Take action with CRNY and Universal Health Coverage Day this week to ensure artists in New York are provided universal health coverage.