The senate will vote on the AHCA (American Health Care Act) bill after they return from their July fourth recess. The controversy surrounding this bill is vast and has many Americans concerned about their future. Rightly so, as it seeks to overturn protections put in place by the previous administration to help cover people who may otherwise not be able to get health insurance coverage. But what does this mean for comics and comic creators, an industry notorious for low pay and poor to no health benefits?
Risks to Freelance Creators
The comics industry depends on freelance creators to produce stories and art. For many of these freelancers, the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is the only way they can afford health insurance for themselves and their families as private insurance premiums are out of reach for most Americans. The ACA has even allowed some to make the leap to full time freelancing. Reverting to a model of high premiums and low coverage may force full-time freelance creators to quit.
Freelancers that have group health insurance coverage from a full-time day job aren’t in the clear either. The AHCA bill seeks to raise costs there too by allowing insurers to charge higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. As someone who has worked in health care before the ACA, when a person could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, I have personally seen the financial and physical health burdens this causes. A person with diabetes, for instance, may have found themselves choosing between paying out of pocket for life-saving treatment or buying groceries and paying bills. To make matters worse, a recent revision of the bill by the senate would deny coverage for six months to anyone who has let their insurance lapse, further mirroring the broken pre-ACA system.
Impact on Publishers and the Market
Major publishers like DC and Marvel provide health care benefits to their full-time employees, but a good portion of the work that goes into their books comes from freelance creators. The portion of freelance work that publishers depend on is even higher among smaller publishers. How much impact the AHCA bill could have on the larger publishers is debatable, but certainly the creative pool they draw from will get smaller and they may need to depend more heavily on employed work. Doing this could drive costs up for all publishers, forcing some of the smaller ones out of business.
What You Can Do
If you’re in the US, make your voice heard and tell your senators your concerns about how the AHCA bill could impact you, the ones you love, and your fellow citizens. Tell them through email, phone, fax, and social media. For information on how to reach your senator, see the links below:
Call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121
If you’re elsewhere in the world, share this article, others like it, the tweets below or the links above.
Reactions From Twitter:
Once again, if you're a fan of comics, wrestling, or any other media done by independent contractors, the #AHCA will hurt them directly
— Patrick King (@patking13) June 26, 2017
Hey ppl, if you like comics, call your senators to NOT vote for Trumpcare bec a lot of comics creators will be without healthcare.
— SupercalifragilisticexpialidoSchultz (@EricaSchultz42) June 26, 2017
I stand by my statement. Trumpcare will have a chilling effect on comics creators in the US. Obamacare had a big impact the comics biz. Fact
— Derf Backderf (@DerfBackderf) June 29, 2017
Anything that keeps people from taking chances b/c they are tied to a job in order to stay insured is bad for comics & creativity in general
— ReadingDoonesbury (@ReadDoonesbury) June 30, 2017
— Gene Ha (@GeneHa) January 12, 2017
I had a pre-existing condition for 17 years that denied me healthcare coverage. Once I got insured I was cured in a matter of weeks #SaveACA
— Allison Sohn (@MrsAdamHughes) January 12, 2017