Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 31, 2014

Go, Wait List: Cartoonists And Freelancers Hit Affordable Care Act Deadline Wall, Questions Remain

I would imagine there will be no getting on the Affordable Care Act sign-up site today. I'm writing this before I know it to be true, but the on-line aspects of the sign-up for this program were way too screwed up for me to think that there will be smooth sailing on the last day. I won't scold you for waiting until now: you should be able to sign up for something before a deadline provided. That doesn't mean you'll be able to. The one thing I would suggest is going back to your state site, or talking to one of your local people, about getting wait-listed if your state allows that; I know some states are making lists. God knows how effective or useful those will be. The other thing I very much suggest is to continue to pay attention to this issue and make the next deadline if this one is blown.

I've talked to maybe two dozen cartoonists who've been able to secure more affordable insurance through one of the exchanges, and a little less than half that number who haven't been able to sign up or are not sure their sign-up went through. I believe the penalty will end up being about $100 for every $10,000 you earn, starting at around $100 to that first $10K. That certainly won't be pleasant, but likely won't lead many people to eBay their David Mazzucchelli Artist's Editions come April 2015. I don't mean to make light, but I think it's worth noting that the punishment will be in the still-lacking-insurance more than in the penalty -- the notion floated once upon a time that comics makers would be driven from comics in droves by severe penalties seems to have been more of a Mole Man minion than a Galactus-sized threat to the art form. I'll keep my ears open, though.

There's a way of thinking in comics -- a way of thinking in life, but I think I find it a lot more in comics than I do in other circles I travel -- where people conceive of how something should work and then hammer away with fury and dismay at those things that fail to match the perceived best outcome. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Superman. I think this frequently nudges people towards unhappiness. We can always conceive of a better outcome than the one we have. If things must be perfect to be pursued, there's little point in pursuing anything. In this case, I'm grateful that people like Jen Sorensen, Laura Park and Tony Millionaire (according to public statements) all found some benefit with the new program, and I'm not necessarily discouraged by those for whom it didn't work out, or hasn't come together yet or who prefer to declare with tremulous fury their preference that the country had a different system altogether in lieu of working with their corner of the mess we have. I think the wider attention is good, the drive to eventually get that part of comics-makers' lives squared away will be a positive over time even with frustration between here and there. I have some issues myself to work out, but I'm glad that more people I know are better off today and that even the frustrated people are thinking about this stuff and working to do something about it instead of a general policy of not going to the doctor, believing that any emergency room visit will bankrupt them forever without having any idea of the figures and programs involved, and potentially dying at home.

Comics people do pretty well fudging around deadlines, and I hope that anyone who was frustrated or left out of this process that needed to be helped will still pursue that help in this area if only to meet a future deadline, or will find other ways to take care of this issue in their lives.
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

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