Hospital trades skills for health care

Would you barter your skills for health care?

A new program at the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center is offering just that.

The program, announced Monday, will give artists the chance to trade their skills – for example, an hour of mural painting – for credits toward health care.

Called the Lincoln Art Exchange, it is geared toward getting independent and freelance artists health care.

Renata Marinaro, director of health services at The Actors Fund, said that about 36 percent of artists are under-insured, according to a 2009 survey by Leveraging Investments in Creativity, a group working to improve conditions for artists. Marinaro said the lowest monthly premium for a health plan in New York county is $920.

“Many artists are self-employed or work part time, meaning they may work jobs that offer no benefits, and have fewer and more expensive options for buying insurance,” she said.

For every hour of musical performances or painting a mural, the artist will earn 40 “health credits,” the equivalent of $40 toward medical care.

Anyone making a living through a creative means is eligible, from dancers to poets to musicians, hospital officials said, and the money can be used toward a wide range of services like doctor visits, lab tests and emergency care.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony-award-winning actor and creator of the musical “In the Heights,” said the program would benefit the many uninsured artists in the city.

“To be able to contribute their creativity and talents at Lincoln Hospital while simultaneously gaining access to medical care, is ingenious,” he said.


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