The Portrait of Health: An Artist’s Perspective on Health Insurance, Part 2
Christian Benefiel brings out an old bent steering wheel and proudly places it on the floor of the classroom studio. He rolls the lopsided wheel around on the concrete, and it does lazy circles, wobbling hard as it makes a full rotation. Benefiel, 28, is a sculptor who mainly does steel foundry work, but he’s begun to incorporate found objects into his art. It’s just a small piece, but he’s going to make something out of it.
Benefiel works in the art department at Montgomery College, just outside of Washington, D.C. His employer doesn’t provide health insurance, but after going two years without it, Benefiel finally decided to purchase private coverage. He also has a pre-existing condition – a back injury that he wouldn’t be able to pay for without insurance if he hurts himself again.
He now maintains a catastrophic insurance policy because he’s well aware of the hazards of working with metal: Last year a friend lost a foot doing similar work.
Art Beat talked to Benefiel about how he budgets for emergencies, and how the cost of insurance actually sometimes prevents him from going to the doctor.
Editor’s Note: In the first installment of this series, Art Beat talked to Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, about how the current health care debate affects artists. We also talked to Megin Sherry, a fashion designer from Philadelphia about her experience trying to get health insurance.