December 15, 2022
(Austin) – The Central Health Board of Managers voted unanimously Wednesday to increase enrollment in athe Central Health and Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) partnership that will provide health coverage to 500 additional local artists. The artists will be enrolled through Sendero Health Plans at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Central Health subsidizes premiums for HAAM members at an average cost of $221 per month per client for IdealCare, Sendero’s silver health insurance plan in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. The ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace annual enrollment period is open through Jan. 15, 2023, however HAAM members who earn less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) may be able to enroll after the deadline if funding is available.
“Central Health’s partnership with HAAM is vital to the health of our community,” said Central Health President & CEO Mike Geeslin. “We are thankful that HAAM has a system in place to connect with low-income musicians and help them enroll in health insurance. Looking forward, our partnership with HAAM will serve as the model for establishing similar programs.”
HAAM provides access to affordable healthcare for greater Austin’s musicians with low-income, with a focus on prevention and wellness. Many Austin musicians are self-employed and have no access to health insurance or basic healthcare. They often work multiple jobs and struggle to pay for basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, with little left for healthcare. Musicians suffer disproportionately worse health outcomes compared to the general population — in large part due to financial barriers to accessing healthcare. Statistically, a musician’s life expectancy is 25 years shorter than the general population.
By resolving challenges such as long-neglected dental work to hearing loss, heart problems and depression, HAAM and its healthcare partners improve and save musicians’ lives, enhancing Austin’s economy and quality of life.
“Thanks to Central Health’s Premium Assistance Program, musicians pay nothing for their monthly health insurance premiums and have extremely limited out of pocket expenses,” HAAM CEO Paul Scott said. “HAAM and Central Health are dedicated to reversing the trend of decreasing life-expectancy for musicians and improving health outcomes for musicians and their families.”
HAAM has helped 6,500 musicians across seven counties access more than $123 million in healthcare services since it began in 2005. Services include routine dental work, doctor visits and prescriptions, psychiatric counseling sessions, eye exams, out-patient procedures, specialist referrals, hearing screenings, basic needs assistance and more.
James Bookert of the Austin-based band San Gabriel is a HAAM client.
“Thanks to HAAM and Central Health’s Premium Assistance Program, I’ve had health coverage when I needed it the most,” Bookert said. “I had a seizure in January 2020 and having Sendero health insurance helped immensely with the expenses of my hospital stay, tests, medication, MRI, and neurologist visits. I doubt I would have been able to get my life back on track without this support. I’m beyond grateful. This year’s ACA Marketplace open enrollment has been super easy thanks to the assistance of HAAM and Central Health — it gives me peace of mind knowing that my health care needs will be fully covered, and insurance will protect me from medical bankruptcy.”