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Cartoonists and insurance


It’s about time cartoonists got embroiled in the fun, easy-to-understand debate over health insurance currently going on. Julia Wertz , author of Fart Party, appears on Time.Com explaining that she has a disease — lupus– and no health insurance. That’s a problem.

Evan Dorkin responds with many thoughts on how freelancers can get coverage and how people are young and stupid.

I’m not judging anyone, here I’m a Mistake King first-class and I have made a lot of dumb choices myself over the years. When I was in my 20’s, I worked for Jim Hanley’s Universe, I was a manager and I had coverage. I never used it. Even when I had a big piece of glass go through my hand, my drawing hand. And it repeatedly opened up and soaked my bedsheets with blood. Why? Because I was young, and I was invulnerable, and I wanted to see my girlfriend that night and not see a stupid doctor and the stupid hand will heal and I’m busy this week going out and screwing around and it only hurts a little now, what can happen. I went to the doctor a week too late, and my hand has hurt ever since. My drawing hand, So stupid, so common, as Julia Wertz wrote. Ms Wertz has lupus, however, and Sarah knows someone who died because of that malady, so, y’know…this shit’s important to stay on top of and deal with. Not lecturing, honest. But what we do in our youth affects our later life, and later life is a long god-damned time, fingers crossed (I want to make stupid comics for a long time, and my hand is a disaster, and my neck went untreated for years…and my back…)

Tom has a few other links.

Reading comments on Julia’s status always depresses me. Obviously she’s made some decisions that affect her life — living in a $900 month an apartment isn’t one of them. This is a society where you can have insurance and still go bankrupt if you get a life-threatening disease. So getting sick isn’t just a matter of dying, it’s a matter of losing everything you have, as well. That’s an ethical choice we as a society have made.

Some people think that’s a problem as well.

  1. After college I got a job that offered health insurance. I knew that I might get sick one day and, if anything, I knew I would have a family one day. I could have taken a job with no insurance. Would that have been smart? No.

    Nobody forces you into your job. Even if you end up doing something you don’t like and you have to pay $1,000/month for your insurance, well, at least you have it. Heath insurance is a choice and not a right.

  2. Some may call me stupid for this, but I choose to not get insurance every year. When I was making the most money at my job, I had coverage for about a year and a half, but then I had to drop it because my company decided to suck… but I probably would have dropped it anyway because I’m opposed to Insurance. Not the idea of insurance, but insurance as it is today. In fact, I would like a socialized medicine USA, but getting the haves to care about the have-nots is impossible unless a have has had a problem with an insurance company. My mother is far from a have, and she has had PLENTY of problems with her insurance companies. I choose to not get insurance because I am not going to support an industry that behaves the way the insurance industry does. Anyone that supports the insurance industry and uses “pre-existing condition” to back up an insurance company decision should get their teeth knocked out. The only reason the term exists is so that the insurance company knows how much to charge you from the start so that when you need treatment for your pre-existing condition they’ve already made a lot of money off of you because of it. If we all paid into one system, then we’d all benefit from that system and conditions pre-existing or not could be treated because of a better funded system. However, when there’s only one system, where do you go if you have a problem with that system…. nowhere.

    there are no easy answers if there are answers at all, but sick people shouldn’t have to worry about being sick and what it’s going to do to the rest of their lives when or if they get well again. We already have socialized medicine, but instead of a trusted government agency with checks and balances to oversee it, the greedy profit-minded insurance companies are the ones making the decisions and that decision is usually based on one principle–the rich get richer, the poor…eh, fuck ’em. So I don’t give them my money.

    I have great sympathy for Ms. Wertz, and I hope things get better for her (I thought House says it’s NEVER lupus.) I believe Colleen Doran knows something about getting insurance if you’re a comics pro as well, but I may be mistaken. I think they even have panels on stuff like this at certain conventions. Best of luck to her in finding the medical assistance she needs.

    p.s. I really really hate insurance companies. :)

  3. I TRULY feel for Julia,

    She’s young, but she’s not being stupid about this. She knows the predicament she’s in. I applaud her telling her story, because TOO MANY artists and illustrators of ANY age are in the same boat. I’m in a weird place and have been for a decade or so. Having worked for DarkHorse, DC, and Marvel in my youth, I’m more than a fan but because I haven’t made a steady living in my chosen profession I feel I’m less than a professional comic creator. But I do work in hospitality, and even in spite of this economic downturn I’ve thrived. For what I do I’m underpaid, but my benefits border on excellent. Which is great because even though I’m relatively healthy, my partner certainly does need the prescription plan my insurance provides. Now I HATE my job, and would do anything to leave it. But even if I was making enough money to support myself solely through free-lancing I’d highly doubt I would be able to afford the level of health care my employer provides for me now. That’s the flipside to this healthcare debate/dilemma. How many artists and creative entrepreneurs are stuck in jobs they hate because fully making the jump from paid associate to freelancing would negatively impact their families? I’m totally for single-payer reform but I don’t think it’s really going to happen. I think it’s up to US as creators to save ourselves. Does that mean joining the Artist Guild proper and try to find a plan that works for us or a similiar organization like the Comicbook Artists Guild or perhaps we should be urging the HERO Initiative to expand their mandate for all professionals and semi-professionals alike? I’m not sure what the answer is but we really need to do something…

  4. Very few folks — fans — really “get” this issue as it applies to cartoonists, as most could really care less about anyone beyond themselves and immediate families. And, that’s a damn shame, in light of the life-harming stance by a former Democratic vice presidential candidate bearly serving in Congress…

  5. What exactly is Julia Wertz looking for in health care reform, free health insurance? I don’t understand how anyone with a chronic autoimmune condition such as lupus can go without health insurance and/or seeing their rheumatologist on a regular basis.

    Lupis ain’t something to screw around with.

    I’m a huge proponent of health care reform. Even if health care reform is passed with a public option, it will not be free. People will still have to buy into the program. Something I don’t see how she could do if she’s only making $1,200 a month (net or gross?) and pays $900 in rent.

  6. While I wouldn’t consider myself a cartoonist, I’ve been writing comics for a while now and having just gotten my first full length OGN “Love Buzz” published by Oni Press of all places, I’m doing pretty good for myself and I’m very hopeful about the future. Having said that, I was also born with a congenital heart condition that while it was pretty much all fixed when I was 8 years old and I’ve had zero problems with it since. I’ve been uninsured for about three straight years now, and while I don’t have any real problems with my heart anymore, the fact that I’m running around uninsured is kinda goddamn nerve wracking, because it’s because things can ALWAYS blow up at any moment. It’s no way to live.

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