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 use on a regular basis to maintain their physical condition include pharmacology, massage therapy, chiropractics, osteopathy, naturopathy, physiotherapy and dentistry, and 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 for surgery.
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.
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.
- 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
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
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.
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
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.
Find more ways to access supportive and affordable mental health services in the GTA by heading to our Mental Health page!