AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) - The new insurance marketplace launching Oct. 1 will help connect some Austin musicians with affordable coverage, while leaving others out.
"Mostly people who are trying to make a living as a full time musician have difficulty getting access to affordable health care," said Austin musician Guy Forsyth.
Forsyth, 44, said the last time he had health insurance was when he was a child. Coverage has simply been too expensive.
"I did 240 shows last year," Forsyth said. "I've traveled to Europe to do shows twice. I did four tours around the United States."
For now, Forsyth uses the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, or HAAM, which helps performers get affordable health care in the city. Forsyth is also playing in support of HAAM during the organization's Benefit Day Tuesday.
However, the HAAM assistance is not insurance.
Now, for the first time in years, Forsyth hopes he will be able to afford insurance with the help of subsidies offered through the new federally-run marketplace for Texas.
Forsyth says he makes about 137 percent of the poverty level, meaning he will likely qualify for subsidies in the insurance marketplace opening next week.
Still, the marketplaces won't be a viable option for many Austin musicians.
"The majority of the musicians that we serve here through HAAM are not going to be eligible for the marketplaces," said Carolyn Schwarz, HAAM's executive director. "Despite the fact that they bring in nearly $2 billion to our economy, they live on very little and often working gig-to-gig to get rent paid."
Schwarz says the public perception of musicians as celebrities can mask the truth about some of the incomes and struggles to get affordable care.
According to HAAM's numbers, 83 percent of its member-musicians earn less than $16,000 per year.
"[Austin is] a very competitive place to try to make a living as a musician, but it's also a very fruitful and inspirational place," said Forsyth.
The marketplaces that launch on Oct. 1 are part of the Affordable Care Act and are designed mainly for those not getting insurance through their employer.
Those with insurance through their employer can still shop in the marketplace, but they will not be eligible for subsidies as long as the coverage offered through work is affordable.
The Affordable Care Act originally required all states to enroll people making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level in Medicaid, the joint state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled. But Gov. Rick Perry has rejected all proposals to expand Medicaid, a system he calls broken.
That means the majority of 2.4 million currently uninsured Texans who earn under that threshold will not be eligible for Medicaid or subsidized health insurance, according to Census data. They will continue to rely on charity care provided at public hospitals, which is funded through local taxes and higher private insurance rates.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.