What Do Freelance Illustrators Do About Health Insurance?
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Thread: What Do Freelance Illustrators Do About Health Insurance?

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    What Do Freelance Illustrators Do About Health Insurance?

    So, I'm about to graduate from college in a few years and I've had a big question looming in my mind for the past few months: What do those of you in the United States, who are professional illustrators or otherwise self-employed do about health insurance? Do you pay for it yourself? Do you go without?

    I hope to become employed by a game developer when I leave college and work a full-time job as a professional concept artist, and in that situation I wouldn't really have to worry about health insurance. However, I've also entertained the notion of doing a few years of freelance illustration work, so I've become very curious and worried about this issue.

    Here's some background so you know where I'm coming from:
    For me, going without health insurance simply isn't an option. I was born with a rare birth defect and am one of only a few survivors in the world. It never affects my day to day life, hardly anyone knows I have anything, and most of the time I completely forget about it, but I do have a tendency to get pnumonia all of the time, sometimes even from the slightest cold.

    I've heard many horror stories from friends and family about private insurance companies charging outrageous sums to sign on young women because of "potential pregnancy costs" despite the fact that they had no plans of starting a family any time soon, and were regularly taking birth control, and I've heard even more horror stories of people with preexisting conditions (which they have no control over) simply being denied coverage outright.

    Frankly, all of these health care schenanigans frighten me and I hope will never prevent me from doing freelance illustration. I'm just curious to know what you guys think about the US health care system, whether you'd ever considered its potential impact on your own life, and what you who are illustrators do about it.


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    call around and find out who has the most affordable, appropriate insurance. not much more you can do than that.

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    Thanks Jason. I guess that's just how it is. There's not really much else I can do, no matter how hard I wish things were different. People sometimes have to pay a steep price for pursuing their dreams, but I think it is worth the struggle 1000 times over to be able to do what you love for a living. I guess I just wish things didn't have to be that way.


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    Cross your fingers that Obama is able to get the health care reforms in. It's disgraceful that a country as big and wealthy as America doesn't have health coverage for every citizen. Large insurance companys have been able to run rampant for too long, driving up rates beyond what people can afford, while also denying them services that would improve their lives.

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    Yes, health care in this country, especially for the self-employed, totally sucks.
    Organizations like the Freelancers Union and the Graphic Artists Guild offer group plans that may be less than individual coverage.
    Some states have public plans or assistance for those with low incomes (which you may be when you're first starting out).
    Some people get part-time teaching jobs just for the insurance.
    Some people rely on their spouse's work coverage.
    And some, unfortunately, cross their fingers and do without.


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    I'd like to know how this ends up working out and what you find. My school requires health insurance so its part of the tuition but after the end of the summer mine runs runs out and will be looking for some as well. However hopefully mine won't be so bad since I have medical issues from being in the military, all my doctor visits for anything are covered for life i just have to find a way to get emergency/vision and dental covered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    Cross your fingers that Obama is able to get the health care reforms in. It's disgraceful that a country as big and wealthy as America doesn't have health coverage for every citizen. Large insurance companys have been able to run rampant for too long, driving up rates beyond what people can afford, while also denying them services that would improve their lives.
    I just watched his press release. Man, I'm glad he's trying to do something about it right now, but I'm sure that whatever is done will take many years to be put into place and it will have a very hard time passing through congress at all.

    aggghhhhh. My mother has spent most of her life working at the local childrens' hospital, so I never worried about coverage until now, but it is pretty unsettling to think about it. I know a girl who works as an illustrator now and could not afford insurance, so she thought she could do without. Last summer, her tooth got infected, but she was too scared to make an appointment with a dentist because she couldn't afford it, and so waited for the infection to resolve itself. I tried to warn her that infections are very very dangerous and if they get into the bloodstream can cause sepsis and death. She ended up having a huge abscess, and had to be hospitalized.

    The worst is that so many people do not see any problem with the current health care system. My local newspaper regularly prints Op Ed letters from people who claim that no one is suffering from the current system, and that the need to keep government as small as possible far outweighs people's health.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Katfayheirti View Post
    I just watched his press release. Man, I'm glad he's trying to do something about it right now, but I'm sure that whatever is done will take many years to be put into place and it will have a very hard time passing through congress at all.
    Healthcare reform will have a MUCH EASIER time passing the House since there is a very healthy (no pun, sorry) majority of Democrats. There are two bills floating about regarding reform and both contain public options.

    Senate, however is a different story. BUT the over 70% of Americans who WANT reform and a single payer seems to be (finally) getting through. But that doesn't mean we can sit back now and let the political process run its course. Congress needs to hear from US. The people.

    So call, write (LTEs, to your congresscritters, to everyone). They need to HEAR us and that'll be the only way we break down the lobbying wall of greed.


    The worst is that so many people do not see any problem with the current health care system. My local newspaper regularly prints Op Ed letters from people who claim that no one is suffering from the current system, and that the need to keep government as small as possible far outweighs people's health.
    The people that write to the Op Ed do so on a pretty regular basis. Seriously. Op Eds are just one place, though. Most important thing to do is let your congresscritters know. Period.

    And trust me, there are FAR more people who KNOW there is a problem with our current system (except, I don't refer to it as healthcare, but diseasecare). There certainly is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TASmith View Post
    Move to Europe
    Or Canada. Or pretty much ANY OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.


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    Katfayheirti, I sympathize with you as I'll be graduating from art school next year and worry about this as well. Games industry seems like a good way to start an illustration career, since you have employees health coverage there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Or Canada. Or pretty much ANY OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
    You could move to Montreal, lots of videogame companies, health insurance and there's going to be a large J.W.Waterhouse exhibit this fall....

    But well, yeah, many professional associations have health insurance plans, the ones Elwell mentioned and some local/regional ones too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Or Canada. Or pretty much ANY OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
    A little extra on your taxes that you'll hardly notice and EVERYBODY benefits....

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    Just do what I do... don't ever leave your house . But yea, I'll get some health insurance as soon as I leave this country.

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    Do you actually have to be a legalized citizen of Canada to be eligible for the health insurance, or is it enough to have visited Niagra Falls once in the late 80's?

    Last edited by Bill; June 23rd, 2009 at 09:49 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    Do you actually have to be a legalized citizen of Canada to be eligible for the health insurance, or is it enough to have visited Niagra Falls once in the late 80's?
    I think you just have to be a resident? You don't need full citizenship, just permanent residency, since it's through the provincial government and not the federal. You just need to prove that your primary residence is in the province that you're applying for it in.

    I think. Don't quote me.

    Has anyone else seen the american commercials about "don't go to canada for your health care, look at all the long waiting times etc!" ...?

    ho boy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daestwen View Post

    Has anyone else seen the american commercials about "don't go to canada for your health care, look at all the long waiting times etc!" ...?

    ho boy.
    Having actually waited in American emergency rooms for 8, 10, and even up to 12 hours at a time before even being examined by a doctor or nurse, those commercials about how our system is 'better' because 'we don't have to wait as long' make me want to grind my teeth when I see them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Katfayheirti View Post
    Having actually waited in American emergency rooms for 8, 10, and even up to 12 hours at a time before even being examined by a doctor or nurse, those commercials about how our system is 'better' because 'we don't have to wait as long' make me want to grind my teeth when I see them.
    I agree with u, it's very bad and i feel the same way when i hear that.

    Anyone who thinks our healthcare system is fine doesn't know anyone stuck in the trap of not being able to get healthcare, or has been mislead by the news. I don't understand how it's fair to give someone the option of pay 3-500$$ or more a month, or risk a simple injury that could put them in debt for a long time if not the rest of their life.

    The health care companies would rather work hard to find healthy people who don't need the healthcare, to keep throwing money in their pot than let people who need it, get it. It couldn't get any worse. Money overrides saving lives in the healthcare system on a daily basis. If a person is a risk, and could cost someone high up in the business a yacht or save a person's life to get surgery, they'd pick the yacht in a heartbeat (no pun intended) The healthcare companies as far as im concerned are some of the most black hearted, evil establishments out there, masked in the cloak of "saving lives". "government healthcare will be so much worse, it will be socialism" people say. well, could it honestly get much worse? and yes, i'm covered under a pretty good plan but would sacrifice any amount of quality in a heartbeat if it meant everyone could get it. It just isn't fair the way it's set up in the US now. Every honest person should have access to healthcare.

    Last edited by ArtZealot; June 24th, 2009 at 12:25 AM.
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    move to australia, apply for a medicare card... if you get sick you go to the hospital... they say " hey wheres your medicare card? "

    you say here it is.. they say oh thanks yeah come in.

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    Initially I thought you were talking about insurance against loss of earnings, not general insurance against illness. US health care has always amazed me in how mercenary it appears. People in the UK moan about the NHS but it's probably the best healthcare system in the world. Oh, and my point.. make sure whatever condition you have (or maybe more relevant, conditions that might arise from that) aren't specifically excluded in the small print. I've heard about people paying out all their lives only to be told no when they need to claim because of some piffling exclusion policy. The insurance companies make it as difficult as possible for you to understand the terms precisely so they can take your money for no returns, so if you need to spend a couple of days reading the small print - do it.

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    Yeah, many insurance companies train their people on how to deny claims. I've heard of some companies denying claims as a matter of course, for NO reason, simply because many people will take no for an answer and not press the issue. If they get pressed on it they can claim it was a simple mistake.

    There are some things that should not be left to commercial interests, and I think this is one of them (just like free education for children, the right to emergency services, etc).

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    Also health insurance companies know the longer they resist a claim the less able the customer is to pursue it, therefore it's in their interests to throw everything in the way of a valid claim.

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    I live in Canada.
    Yeah sure we have to wait. I had to go to the hospital. Waited 3 hours, could be worse. If you're in an serious state you're obviously put ahead.
    And then there's cancellations on wait lists for specialized doctors. I was told I might wait up to 8 months for a gastroenterologist, it ended up being hardly a month.

    And to sum it up, it's better than paying whatever America makes you pay.
    So if you have the option to move, do it. I live in Vancouver, the gaming industry here is rampant and lots of small companies are hiring.

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    I pay more for health insurance than I do for my mortage.
    It's a pathetic system.

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    (just like free education for children, the right to emergency services, etc).

    A little extra on your taxes that you'll hardly notice and EVERYBODY benefits....
    Education is not free. I had enough sense not to have kids and I am still taxed out the wazoo to pay a bunch of union teachers to babysit everyone else's kids that can't even point out Washington, D.C. on a map.

    I notice my taxes, believe you me! After my mortgage, my taxes are already my second biggest debt. (Bigger than my vehicle) Thanks everybody for your diligent efforts to make sure I will never be able to pay them no matter how hard I work.

    Emergency services are not a right, at least under the U.S. Constitution. That is one of the police powers reserved to the individual states. They charge for that crap out west, as well they should.

    About "everybody benefits" the answer is no. I am one of those small businesses that makes enough that I will not get a government subsidy under the plans being bandied about. I will just get taxed in order to pay for everybody else while still being apparently subject to to the law that states that everybody must buy health insurance. Apparently, I am going to get the honor of buying health insurance for myself in order to stay out of jail (or getting fined or whatever), and yet I also get taxed to pay for the insurance for all the union people and other miscellaneous collectivist geeks. (Yeah, that's right. Those self same taxes that I already can't pay will "go up a little bit" and I will also have to shell out for my own health insurance, whether I want to or not.)

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    Last edited by arttorney; June 26th, 2009 at 12:12 AM. Reason: miswspelling
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    I don't have kids, why am I paying for public education?

    I haven't had MY house burn down, I don't know why my taxes have to pay for a fire department.

    No one has tried to kill ME, why is my tax money being spent tracking down that serial killer?

    Terrorists haven't tried to blow up MY neighborhood, why am I paying for a military?

    I don't do business in China, why are my taxes paying for an embassy there?


    Some thing are good for everyone, whether you use it personally or not.

    Last edited by J Wilson; June 26th, 2009 at 10:41 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    Out of curiousity, how does that work?
    I don't know if she was exaggerating, but my mother has often told me a story about how I had labored breathing as an infant, so she took me to the ER, I stopped breathing when she got there, and the personnel would not treat me until she showed them proof of insurance! She told me all about how she was crying and her hands were shaking almost too badly to pull the insurance card out of her wallet. I don't know if the ER was just busy or something or if it wasn't really an insurance issue and she mistook it as one, but the story still makes my skin crawl.


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    Health insurance in the U.S. is an issue that, regardless of the best intentions, won't be fixed quickly: there are too many lobbyists, corporations, politicians, and all-around knotheads that will make reform a painfully slow process.

    If there's any positive to the whole mess it's that if you're in your 20s, single, and reasonably healthy you can get a basic policy that will cover an emergency for a price that (usually) won't break the bank. Plus, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. The more coverage (dental, vision, maternity, etc.), the higher the premium. Of course, the older you get, the more you'll have to pay. Most cities have independent "insurance brokers": rather than do all the leg work and comparisons yourself, these guys have all of the policies available in the area (not every insurance company operates in every state) and can match you with one that you can afford. They get paid a sales commission from whatever company issues the policy so you don't pay a fee for their service (at least in Kansas): it's worth a look. A decent life insurance policy for 20-30-somethings is dirt cheap and always good to have just in case... If nothing else it pays to get you planted and buys a few drinks for friends to toast you with.

    Also, even if working for a big business, expect to pay something out of each check for coverage under their plan. Though there are exceptions, most corporations have their employees kick in something these days to help offset escalating costs—how much depends on the company.

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    Here's something that rec'd little notice from the traditional media. A former exec of CIGNA, recently testified to Congress:

    ‘[T]hey confuse their customers and dump the sick, all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors,’ former Cigna senior executive Wendell Potter said during a hearing on health insurance today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

    Potter, who has more than 20 years of experience working in public relations for insurance companies Cigna and Humana, said companies routinely drop seriously ill policyholders so they can meet ‘Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations.’

    ‘They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment,’ Potter said. ‘…(D)umping a small number of enrollees can have a big effect on the bottom line.’
    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Healt...7911195&page=1 <---Read more here


    It's deplorable that the so-called "wealthiest nation in the world" can fork out billions for a unnesessary war, keep providing the goons who destroyed our economy with millions (and continue to argue that the CEOs still deserve their precious bonuses) that we can't pull our collective heads out of our asses and realize that our murder-by-spreadsheet disease care system here (still referred to as "healthcare system"), is absolutely insane.

    And end it.

    But at least we ain't socialists, eh?

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    Some thing are good for everyone, whether you use it personally or not.
    Non sequitur.

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