(Interview 5/2010. Oil on canvas, 40 ins x 30 ins.)
I stalked this one trying to locate her. She has a formidable online presence. I'm sorry I did not hear back. My email might be at the bottom of a spam pit. I'll leave it for now. Without her permission I cannot use her first name or link to her work.
This young woman is a musician, composer, poet and visual artist. Some of her work has been labeled afrofuturism, art that explores the Afro-American experience.
In March 2021 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. The new law expanded eligibility for individuals needing financial help to buy health insurance on the online marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act.
The subject was ineligible for her employer's group health plan. There is no doubt the Affordable Care Act would have created a very clear, affordable path for this young woman to get a single health insurance policy for herself if the new healthcare law had been fully implemented.
Artist Note (3/2012)
I was drawn to this story. I wondered how is it that we positioned ourselves as a society that a young musician who supports herself by coaching sports teams at an expensive private school does not have access to health insurance through her job. Nor does she have the means to buy it on her own.
How is this possible in a first-world country? Is she doing something wrong?
This subject is uninsured. One medical emergency and the medical bills could bury her.
I had already been painting stories for a year at this point. I interviewed this subject just a couple of months after the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) became law. I didn’t understand what the law would mean. My focus had been on just telling the stories of real people – not really knowing where it would lead but sensing that we had really better start telling the truth because Americans were suffering.
In fact, after Obamacare passed I thought I would wind down the project. I thought the nation had taken a first big step toward addressing the problem of lack of access to medical care for many millions.
But the ear-splitting opposition to Obamacare compelled me to research the law fully. Two years later I have come to understand what the law would do for this woman. She would most likely qualify for a premium tax credit or subsidy under Obamacare.
A subsidy is a way for a person to take responsibility for her healthcare and purchase health insurance.
This subject would never pay more than 2% - 9.5% of her income depending on how much she earns. (Her income puts her in the wage range that qualifies her for subsidies.) What does that mean? For example an UNINSURED family of four making $44,100/month would pay about $230/month for insurance. (The 2021 American Rescue Plan temporarily makes subsidies more generous. )
The subsidies are for people who are NOT getting insurance through a job and whose wages qualify them for a subsidy. The uninsured pay their share, get a subsidy, and now have insurance when they need to get care. The marketplaces and subsidies do not start until 2014.
This subject is an individual who does not get insurance through her job. She is considered a part-time employee. She would shop for insurance on the new marketplace in 2014. This marketplace houses many different private companies selling all types of policies. For companies to sell in this new marketplace, they must agree to certain rules. But privates companies are selling the insurance, NOT the government.
Punk Rock Singer, Part-Time Sports Coach (basketball, soccer, softball) for Girls' Teams at a Private School in a Large City, Age 28, Uninsured
The subject has no health problems but realizes she's getting older and her body is changing.
She goes to a dental school for dental care. The subject does not get regular check-ups but has made a commitment to gynecological care through a non-profit organization.
The subject is waiting to earn enough money to be able to afford monthly health insurance premiums.