Could universal health care revolutionize the theater?

As I listened to Barack and Hillary talk about UHC a few weeks ago, I selfishly started to wonder what universal health care would do for the Broadway and Off-Broadway industry.

One of the biggest expense issues we face on and Off-Broadway is not union mandated minimums.  It’s union mandated benefits.

Even after some fancy maneuvering in the last AEA negotiation, producers are still required to pay $153 per actor for the AEA Health Plan.  That’s $612/month or $7956/year.  That kind of cash would buy a few health plans on the individual market.

Imagine 30 actors . . . that’s $238,680 a year.

And that’s only one union.  Add stagehands, musicians, company managers, press agents, ushers, etc., etc. and you’re easily up to $500,000 a year, or 5% of the capitalization of a $10 million dollar musical.

What happens to that cash if everyone is covered by some sort of UHC?  Would the unions allow us to put our employees on a National Plan and save money?

From what I have read, both Barack and Hillary’s plans provide everything that I have heard union reps say is necessary, including the most important element, portability (the ability to take your insurance from job to job, since the length of a run of a show is so unknown).

So will all that money go back into the shows?  Or will the unions see that as a “giveback” and ask that it be paid directly to the employee or put in the pension funds?  Oooooh, the drama is building already!

If a Democrat gets into the big house, and actually passes his/her plan, all hell-th care is going to break loose, and we could witness one of the most radical economic reforms in our industry to date.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.

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