Singer and songwriter Britny Lobas said she benefits from being a Health Alliance for Austin Musicians member. Singer and songwriter Britny Lobas said she benefits from being a Health Alliance for Austin Musicians member.[/caption]

Keeping music in Austin alive and well is the focus of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Executive Director Reenie Collins said.

HAAM provides access to affordable health care services for Austin’s low-income and uninsured musicians.

Members range from rock and hip-hop musicians to music teachers and symphony members, Collins said.

“Most of our musicians don’t make the kind of income that you would think they might, and so they can’t afford to purchase insurance,” Collins said. “That’s where HAAM [comes] in. HAAM is not insurance; we are a community collaborative where we provide access to services [and] other organizations.”

The nonprofit, founded in 2005 by local philanthropist Robin Shivers, works with partners including Seton Healthcare Family, St. David’s Foundation and the SIMS Foundation to provide members health care, Collins said. It is more economical to be proactive about health care rather than using more costly forms of medicine and allowing chronic issues to become crises, she said. Many services HAAM provides are preventive, she said.

Singer/songwriter Kalu James, originally from Nigeria, moved to Austin’s 78704 ZIP code from New York in 2007. As a HAAM member he has received everything from physical checkups to custom earplugs, he said.

“My hearing is one of the most important resources I have,” he said. Access to HAAM helps lengthen the span of musicians’ careers, he said.

Northwest Austin resident Britny Lobas, a rock ’n’ roll singer/songwriter, said she was grateful to find HAAM because she has bad allergies that sometimes affect her voice.

“HAAM really allows musicians to be able to play music and not have to worry [whether we are] going to be able to afford to go to the doctor this month and not be able to pay rent because [health care is] so expensive.”

Reenie Collins is the executive director of HAAM. Reenie Collins is the executive director of HAAM.[/caption]

Money matters

Funding comes from events, grants and foundation support, donations and in-kind professional services, Collins said. Annual fundraisers include HAAM Benefit Day in September and a Corporate Battle of the Bands event in May.

“If you give us a $10 donation, that turns into $70 worth of health care services, or if you give us a $100 donation, that’s almost $1,000, which would cover a musician for a full year,” Collins said.

HAAM applicants must be
uninsured working musicians and earn 250 percent or less of the federal poverty level, which for an individual could be $29,175 or less annually.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM)

1206 W. 38th St., Ste. 4101
Hours by appointment

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