Extended health and dental insurance is invaluable, but most professional artists do not have access to health benefits through an employer, which means that they are paying for essential health services out of pocket.
Medical services that many artists can use on a regular basis to maintain their physical condition include pharmacology, massage therapy, chiropractics, osteopathy, naturopathy, physiotherapy, and dentistry amongst others. These services can be very expensive.
OHIP is Ontario’s health care plan. Through OHIP, the province pays for many of the health services you may need. You need to apply and, once you’re approved, you’ll get an Ontario health card. Your health card proves you’re covered by OHIP – that’s why you’ll need to show it every time you see your doctor, visit an emergency room, have a medical test or go in for surgery.
What is covered?
OHIP covers many health services you may need, such as:
- appointments with your family doctor
- visits to walk-in clinics and some other health care providers
- visits to an emergency room
- medical tests and surgeries
To be covered by OHIP, you must have a medical reason to receive a service or treatment.
Visit the Ontario website for information on how to apply.
Perscription Subsidies from the Ontario Government
Ontario Drug Benefit program is for Ontario residents only and prescriptions must be filled in an Ontario pharmacy to be covered. Eligible Ontarians include: folks over 65 years old; folks living in a long-term care home, home for special care, or Community Home for Opportunity; folks 24 years of age or younger and not covered by a private insurance plan; folks receiving professional home and community care services folks receiving benefits from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program, and folks enrolled in the Trillium Drug Program.
Get help with high prescription drug costs by applying to the Trillium Drug Program, which helps Ontarians pay for their high prescription-drug costs. The Trillium Drug Program is for Ontarians who have a valid Ontario health card number, do not already qualify for the Ontario Drug Benefit program (eligibility above), do not have an insurance plan that pays for 100% of your drugs, and spend about 4% or more of your after-tax household income on prescription-drug costs.
Extended Health Care
Many organizations offer private extended health and dental plans. Each organization provides slightly different services, with plans that can be tailored to meet your personal needs and budget. It is important to compare the options before selecting an insurance provider.
As an independent artist, these costs are often at your own expense, but may be eligible as tax deductible expenses.
What may be covered?
- Prescription drugs: medication prescribed by a doctor
- Vision care: eyeglasses and contact lenses
- Paramedical services: chiropractors, naturopaths, podiatrists, etc.
- Medical services and equipment: private duty nursing, ambulances, crutches, hearing aids, etc.
- Hospital care: semi-private hospital room in the plan member's province
- Medi-Passport: out-of-province emergency travel assistance
Organizations with Extended Health Care Programs as part of Membership
Several associations and unions in the arts provide plans, at your own expense, to their members. These organizations are using the buying power of the group of members to offset the costs.
- Actra Fraternal Benefits Society - insurance benefits and investment services to Canadian performers and screenwriters.
- Equity - all Equity members in good standing are eligible for some level of insurance benefits.
- Arts & Entertainment Plan - as a member of over a list of many participating Organization (such as ACTRA Apprentice and Background Performers, Canadian Dance Assembly, Theatre Ontario) or meet the definition of an artist,
- Canadian Dance Assembly - access to affordable health insurance through AFBS
Private Health Care Programs
Should one of these plans not be a good fit for you, you can also go with other private plans such as those offered through:
Your bank, insurance agency or post-secondary alumni association may also have options.
Low Cost Health Services and Body Work (Toronto)
If you are looking for low cost health services and bodywork, the following organizations offer inexpensive access to acupuncture, massage, naturopathy and other complementary health services in Toronto:
- Six Degrees offers community acupuncture (acupuncture received in a room while other people are receiving treatment) at rates of between $30 and $50 CAD per session
- Roncesvalles Walk In Naturopathic Clinic offers naturopathic walk-in clinic and acupuncture at sliding rates between $25 and $50 CAD
- The Sutherland-Chan Massage School offers a student clinic where massage therapists in training offer 60 minute sessions for $42 CAD
Affordable Recreation and Fitness
Staying active can be a challenge when you are on a limited budget. Here are a few affordable to help you stay healthy and fit:
- Yoga Village offers pay what you can yoga classes in the west end of Toronto (suggested donation between $15 and $25 CAD per class)
- The City of Toronto’s Welcome Policy provides a fee subsidy to help individuals and families with low-income who live in Toronto access City-operated recreation programs. If you are approved for Welcome Policy, you will receive an annual financial credit that can be spent on any of the wide variety of high-quality recreation programs offered by the City throughout the year.
- The YMCA Financial Assistance Program offers financial assistance so that anyone in the community can participate in YMCA programs. Each YMCA has their own process for determining eligibility for financial assistance. Please contact your local YMCA for more information.
- Social Distancing a.k.a. The Internet is our Friend is an ever-growing list of free arts/culture/education/health/wellness resources where folks can access some fun, nourishing, and educational experiences from home.
- Free Online Workout Videos and Programs from Fitness Blender includes over 500 free workouts that range from 10-85 minutes long, from beginner level to elite athlete, from HIIT to Pilates, and strength training to bodyweight.
- Free Yoga Videos by Lululemon include Power Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, and Yoga For Runners
- RunKeeper by ASICS tracks your runs, will help you set running goals, and create a schedule based on your running goals for you to follow. Other running apps include Nike Run Club and MapMyRun
- Robyn Breen and the Misfits gang have been posting Instagram live pilates work-outs to accommodate social distancing due to COVID-19.
Find more ways to access supportive and affordable mental health services in the GTA by heading to our Mental Health page!