Hollywood union actor and writer strikes put health insurance at risk for many, with the possibility of over 170,000 workers losing their coverage.
Background: The dual strikes in Hollywood primarily discuss artificial intelligence, residual payments, and job protections, but health insurance, a hallmark of these unions, is also at risk.
* Health insurance offered by both the writer (WGA) and actor’s (SAG-AFTRA) unions is contingent on members earning a minimum amount of money each year.
* The WGA health insurance policy, sometimes referred to as the “Cadillac of health insurance”, has no monthly premiums and relatively low deductibles.
* Because of the strikes, which have been ongoing since May for writers and since mid-July for actors, members could lose eligibility for insurance simply because they are not working.
Impact on Studio Crews: While the striking actors and writers might get reprieve, non-member studio crews could potentially lose their health insurance.
* The Union Solidarity Coalition (TUSC), a mutual aid group, was created to provide assistance to these crew members who are not part of the striking unions.
Potential Solutions: A new California law could provide support for strikers losing their health insurance.
* AB2530, which took effect July 1, 2023, received $2 million in funding under the new state budget to cover premiums for union workers that lose coverage due to a strike.
* As of 2024, another law will end deductibles on middle-tier benchmark plans offering further relief.
Response from Studios: Though studios and streaming companies could continue coverage, it is unlikely.
* IATSE president, Matt Loeb, has called for studios and streamers to offer extended health benefits to workers who may lose them during the strikes.
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