Uninsured Artists Swap Health Care for Performances

New York City artists can now earn health credits for doctor visits and more if they offer their time and talents to hospital patients.
by | February 6, 2012 AT 3:30 PM
ISD 191 Performing Arts Programs/Flickr CC

New York City -- home to artists and performers who typically lack employer-provided health insurance -- is allowing this group of professionals to work for their health care. Under a new program deemed the “Lincoln Art Exchange,” artists can get $40 worth of health services for each hour they spend sharing their talents with patients. The credits can be used toward doctor visits, hospital stays, emergency room care, surgeries, prescriptions and tests at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx. Artists and performers typically make too much money to qualify for public health programs (about $24,000 a year) but not enough to afford private health insurance, Renata Marinaro, the director of health services for the Actors’ Fund, told the Associated Press. Applicants must interview for the program, but once accepted, can work as little or as much as they want -- provided their services are needed. New York City tested this idea with a pilot program in 2005 called “ArtistAccess” and Utah is also toying with the idea for a similar program that offers health care in exchange for community service.