My husband, Martin, is an actor, a voiceover performer, a dialect coach and a proud union member. He is a member of the now merged Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, known as SAG/AFTRA. All the movie stars are members of the same union. I was going to ask Tom Cruise if he would pay for our health insurance, but he has his hands full, at the moment.
Martin has been a union member for almost 25 years. Sometimes he works a lot and sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he auditions a lot but doesn't make any money. Sometimes he hardly works but he makes a wheelbarrow full of money. It's a funny business, your voiceover business. He auditions for a living. You either get the job or you don't hear back. If you can't handle the rejection, you should do something else.
In 2008, Martin hit the motherlode; a voiceover campaign for S.C Johnson's Pledge products. There were several spots running simultaneously for 3 years. This almost never happens in the wonderful world of advertising. Each spot featured a woman in a glass box. They were really great spots; cool visuals and amusing copy. You can check it out if you go to this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zx8j7s7-RQ
Since those spots stopped airing, Martin hasn't booked much of anything. Here's the thing about the union health insurance. Each member has to earn a certain amount of money to qualify for insurance. They keep raising the income level to qualify. Since I am a self-employed massage therapist, I don't get any health insurance. We have an adopted son with severe behavior disorder who needs lots of services just to get through each day. Martin and I are pushing 60. Our son will be 12 next birthday. You do the math. We are the poster family for old parents. We are exhausted by our child's constant neediness. He fractured his kneecap on day 2 of camp and is in a full leg cast. It is 98 degrees today in Chicago. He just called me to inform me that he swallowed hand sanitizer. His friend was giving him some and he tripped, thereby swallowing some. He read the warning on the label, thought he was poisoned and made himself throw up. I asked him what he wanted me to do? Spend 9 hours in the ER? He decided that wasn't a very appealing idea. But, I digress.
So, as of October, 2012, we will no longer have health insurance through SAG/AFTRA because Martin didn't earn enough to qualify. There is something bass ackwards about this situation. The performers who make hundreds of thousands of dollars, yea, millions of dollars a year, only pay a small premium for health insurance. Those that could pay for it without a second thought qualify for it. Those performers who barely make a living then have to make a decision about whether to forego having health insurance because they can't afford to pay for it. In a sane world, those that make millions of dollars should subsidize those that don't.
So, I thought I would ask Brad Pitt to pay our insurance premium. I guess I sound like a socialist; I did spend 8 years living in Britain where the citizens never see a medical bill and no one ever goes bankrupt when they get sick. It is baffling to me how the richest country in the world can allow its citizens to lose everything just because they become ill.