Founded by professional voice actors Tim Friedlander and Carin Gilfry, NAVA (National Association Of Voice Actors) is working to bring health insurance, among other services, to voice actors in the United States of America. Here’s why that really matters and how you can get health care for voice actors – created by voice actors.
Starting an association that also provides health care is no small feat, and it didn’t happen overnight. Four years ago, Tim and Carin combined their knowledge, skills, resources, and determination to expand the scope of their voice over outreach initiatives.
In fact, during the Covid-19 pandemic, they worked together to combine financial aid assistance to freelancers in need. Almost $40,000 was raised as an emergency fund for those who needed help buying groceries, paying their electric bill, or seeing to other life necessities.
"It's been about a year and a half of exploring what we can offer as an association, what we can provide to the larger community, and into this whole journey of exploring healthcare options for voice actors."
Thus NAVA was born – a non-profit association with the goal of helping voice actors. Part of that mission became to potentially provide affordable health insurance!
The need for health insurance
In the U.S – like in most countries – health insurance is extremely expensive but a crucial lifeline during times of illness, trauma, and emergency.
While some people can access health insurance via certain jobs, or by meeting specific requirements when belonging to a voice actor union, it’s still a struggle for all voice actors to be able to afford reliable health insurance.
“I was basically paying $24,000 a year just toward health insurance for me and my daughter,” Carin recalls. “So I know what that struggle is. Recently I had to go to the ER, and for a simple two-hour stay, I got a bill for $9,645! If I didn’t have health insurance, I would be responsible for that entire bill. And this is the thing that keeps freelancers from doing voiceover to their fullest potential because they feel like they need to stay in a job that they hate so that they can get health insurance benefits for themselves and their families.
Subsequently, Tim and Carin, both passionate and determined to mediate health care offerings for all union and non-union voice actors, also explain that the goal for their association is to “work alongside others in the industry so that NAVA can help to facilitate health insurance that is affordable enough for a regular freelance voice actor. That way, people can really get into voiceover and not have to worry about themselves and their families getting into horrible medical situations.”
Naturally, it hasn’t been smooth sailing to get to the point where they can finally run a census and start talking numbers and figures. It actually took years of research, communication, and gathering information.
Tim remembers dealing with this off and on for the last ten to fifteen years. “I was an independent music teacher for years and didn’t have health insurance. So, I’ve been trying to gather information on the actual, correct, legal information and what is available to us. I’ve also been speaking with people in the same industry, brokers, health insurance providers, and dealing with conflicting information.”
"We want to work alongside others in the industry to help facilitate healthcare that is affordable enough for freelance voice actors."
Tim noted the challenges of communicating with their board members, peers, and friends because information changes daily, sometimes hourly. Carin also highlighted the challenge of the intricate bureaucracy involved and how difficult it is to find trustworthy, legitimate information. “We’re now at the point where we are finally getting some traction and direction as to how we’re going to do this,” she adds.
Interested in health care for voice actors - created by voice actors?