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|No health insurance for street performers|
|Written by Amanda Druce|
|Friday, 26 September 2008 00:00|
Richard Wilson, owner of Smoke Signals, knows how it feels to pay a high price for health insurance. For many employees in Tombstone, health insurance is expensive and not offered through their jobs.
Wilson said it is important to have insurance because one can never know what might happen on a day-to-day basis. Wilson has traveled to Sierra Vista Hospital on more than one occasion to undergo treatment for a heart attack.
“I don’t want to get wiped out,” Wilson said. “It is quite easy to get stuck paying a $2,000 deductible and also have to pay for a regular doctor.”
Wilson said that despite his previous health issues, he feels pretty healthy and he comes from a family of longevity. His father lived to be 103 years old.
Andrea Grimaldi, a sales clerk at the Tombstone Gambler, said she continues to live without health insurance because the monthly premiums are too high.
“I’m not about to pay $500 a month,” Grimaldi said. “I just don’t think about it. I haven’t had it since my last job.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2007, Tombstone has a population of 1,562 with a median age of 48.7.
“Down the road, 20 years from now I worry about it,” Grimaldi said. “When I actually needed to go to the doctors for a procedure, the insurance wouldn’t have even covered what I needed. It was ridiculous.”
“I had the money anyways so I didn’t have to worry,” she added. “But it’s irritating. They know people don’t have health insurance so they jack up the price so there are more people without insurance. It should be for everyone.”
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services Community Health Report, 16.7 percent of adults in Arizona do not have medical insurance.
Since most jobs do not offer health insurance in Tombstone, entertainers such as Dave Osmond pay high premiums to ensure they’ll be covered in the event something were to happen.
“You never know when you need it,” Osmond said.
According to the National Coalition on Health Care, insurance premiums are increasing and nearly 47 million Americans are uninsured.
For street actors who perform gun fights on a day-to-day basis, accidents sometimes occur.
Stephen Keith, owner of Tombstone Huckleberry Productions, said that most actors in Tombstone don’t make much money. He said he pays his actors $10.99 an hour plus a portion of the tickets sold. The 30 actors he employees have no benefits.
Keith said people are injured on the job every day and he doesn’t agree with the way actors are treated in Tombstone. He said they should be given benefits because their jobs are rough and require vigorous work.
“Actors are like bull riders,” said Chad Whitson, an actor who plays Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. “It is not a matter of if it happens, it is a matter of when it happens.”
Richard Blake, like many retirees, receives Medicare. He has been an actor for much of his life and now advertises for the trolley rides around Tombstone. He doesn’t worry about not having health insurance because Medicare helps him if he needs anything done. While it is a scary thought that many of his colleagues do not have the same benefits he does, he makes sure to stay as healthy as he can.
“This is a low income town,” said Wilson. “There isn’t enough money for health insurance, if there was, we would all be driving Cadillacs.”