Health Insurance Feature: Health-care Blues

Photo of musician Ernest Papay

“Health-care Blues: Thirty-three percent of U.S. musicians are uninsured, nearly twice the national average”

Pittsburgh City Paper

Photo of musician Ernest Papay
Finding affordable health insurance can be a struggle for freelance musicians like Ernest Papay. Photo: Renee Rosensteel

Purpose + Audience

This story began in a Science Writing workshop at Carnegie Mellon University, a graduate course on writing about technical information and complex topics for a general audience. As music editor for Pittsburgh City Paper, I knew many musicians struggled to obtain adequate health insurance. I hoped to learn why musicians were nearly twice as likely to be uninsured than the national average and to provide much-needed resources on insurance options and assistance.

Skills

To write the story, I analyzed surveys and reports by nonprofit advocacy groups, conveyed complex technical data in an easy-to-read style and positioned my findings in relation to the music industry’s unions and performing rights organizations. I drew upon relationships to create a compelling narrative frame for the business realities of freelance, entrepreneurial performers: the stories of father-and-son musicians in the Pittsburgh community.

Results

The revised feature appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper’s 2012 Health Issue. City Paper, an alternative newsweekly, reaches 326,995 readers and is the second most-read publication in the region.

Excerpt

Artists — musicians in particular — are not well served by the insurance system, according to Emily Gray, a program director at Fractured Atlas. The national non-profit is dedicated to supporting independent artists and small arts organizations through financial and educational programs.

“Depending on the constituency you talk to,” says Gray, “there’s a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude.” And while filmmakers may receive training in obtaining permits and insurance, she says, formal instruction for musicians may overlook these practical considerations. Touring musicians, especially, face problems with accessing in-network care while on the road.

Full Text

Download a PDF of “Health-care Blues” or read it online at pghcitypaper.com.