Looking for Health Care? We’ve Got Options

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume CIX, No. 9September, 2009

Cindy Green, LCSW

One of the major challenges in this country is providing accessible health care for everyone.

Fortunately, those in the entertainment profession have the Actors Fund, which offers programs, services and other useful resources for the exploration of affordable health insurance options as well as health care.


The Web site of the Artists Health Insurance Resource Center was designed to make quality, affordable health insurance and health care available to every artist in the United States.

Visit and you’ll find up-to-date and easy to understand information on securing health insurance as well as resources for finding the health care you need.

The site allows you to compare providers and services, look for specific resources including possible financial assistance and evaluate the costs of your needs.

Since each state regulates health insurance separately and each has its own rules, information on the site is arranged by state and there are regional guides to cities that have substantial entertainment communities.


The Actors Fund also offers a weekly seminar called “Finding and Keeping Health Insurance.” This comprehensive workshop explores various options for obtaining health insurance in the New York City metro area as well as finding affordable health care if you are currently uninsured. The seminar is held every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. on the 10th floor of 729 Seventh Avenue. No registration required: just show up.

With all the healthcare news and town hall meetings, many people are left feeling they would like to take some action.

If you would like to actively participate in the healthcare debate, check out

The site is a political action and advocacy site where artists join together to demand affordable, comprehensive guaranteed-issue insurance.

Here, you will have the opportunity to learn about your rights, take actions, join advocacy organizations or share your stories about your experiences with the healthcare system.


For those who need ongoing care but who can’t find appropriate, affordable health insurance plans, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic provides free health care to uninsured and underinsured documented entertainment industry professionals between the ages of 18 and 64.

Located at 475 West 57th Street (at 10th Avenue), the Hirschfeld Clinic offers urgent care, primary and specialty care with low cost referrals to a wide range of specialty clinics and practitioners.

Dr. James Spears, the clinic’s medical director, oversees a team of general practitioners and specialists who volunteer their time to provide free medical care to the entertainment community.

All lab tests as well as other services provided at the clinic are free.

For an appointment call (212) 489-1939.


Anyone in New York City or Westchester and Nassau county who is uninsured and does not qualify for public health insurance can go to city hospitals and receive care for a reduced rate.

Under a program called HHC Options, your discounted fee will depend on the household income and family size.

City hospitals include Bellevue, Kings County, Elmhurst, Harlem and North Central Bronx Hospitals.

For more information about HHC Options, and a listing of city hospitals, visit

Obtaining health care and finding affordable health insurance can be confusing and overwhelming but no one should ever have to choose between paying their rent and seeking necessary health care.

For additional guidance about any of these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (212) 397-4802. Or see