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.
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.