By Heleya de Barros, Co-chair of the Roundtable’s TA Affairs Committee
Halloween has passed, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and that means that it is time for open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace! I know, for some this might inspire more dread than doing your taxes, but I’m here to share that it doesn’t have to be so terrible. There are some fantastic resources out there to help you navigate the marketplace and get coverage as a freelance artist!
This will be the fourth year I’ve enrolled in individual health coverage through the New York marketplace. The ACA can be cumbersome and confusing to begin with–then add in being a freelance artist into the mix and the equation gets more complicated. To help you avoid throwing your hands in the air and walking away without any coverage (I’ve been there), I wanted to share some resources I’ve found helpful as a freelance artist searching for healthcare in New York.
First, let’s get the dates straight:
- November 1, 2016: New York State of Health open enrollment begins
- November 16, 2016: Renewal enrollment begins for those with existing New York State of Health coverage
- December 15, 2016: Enrollment deadline to get coverage by January 1, 2017
- January 31, 2017: Deadline to enroll in or make changes to a 2017 plan
Note: If you qualify for a special enrollment period, you may be eligible to enroll at a later date.
Whether this is your first year navigating the ACA, or not, I encourage you to check out the Actor’s Fund Artist Health Insurance Resource Center Site.
The Actor’s Fund (not just for actors!) is a nationwide human services organization that helps professionals in all performing arts and entertainment. They are an amazing resource in this city. They have assisted me with healthcare navigation, affordable housing, finding a therapist, and tax information over the years. Their ACA FAQ Tutorial is a really great place to start. It even includes a glossary of healthcare terms.
If you’re looking for a little more guidance The Actor’s Fund also holds in-person “Every Artist Insured” seminars twice weekly at their offices in Times Square.
“Every Artist Insured”
Every Tuesday at 6pm and Thursday at 1:30 pm from November 1, 2016- January 31, 2017
No need to register, just show up! Find out more here.
I attended one of the sessions last year. It was helpful to walk through the whole system step-by-step with a person to answer questions right there with you. I also learned a lot about the kinds of questions I should be asking and thinking about from the other artists in the room. Especially when it came to how to enter your income as a freelancer.
If you want one-on-one guidance through the process that is also free and available! New York State of Health offers free In Person Assistance (IPA), or navigators, who are well versed in the system to walk people through the enrollment process. This assistance is available in over 40 languages. More information, click here.
The Actor’s Fund also has their own set of certified IPA’s/navigators with specific knowledge of artists budgets and lifestyles (available here). I used one of their navigators last year. I was able to better understand the coverage I was signing up for, and as a result, actually used my health insurance a lot more this past year!
We’d love to hear from you. Please share other resources in the comments below! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017!