Until this month, most models have had to rely on public option health insurance, be young and have insured parents, go without, or have last names like Baldwin, Hadid, or Kardashian in order to access healthcare. Now, Elite Model Management is set to become the first major agency to offer its models health insurance, which is great but also sounds like something that should have happened long before 2020, and should also be industry standard.
Unfortunately, as independent contractors, models have long been excluded from employee-related health benefits, though Elite oddly offers its models guidance and assistance in other areas like “advice in banking, real estate and other investment matters,” rather than things like 401ks and, until now, health insurance, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
The new plan will include medical, dental, personal accident, private third-party liability, travel and flight inconvenience, and will cover stays ordered for medical reasons; the plan costs $580 a year and is not subsidized.
In addition to “typical” medical expenses the plan covers, it’s also tailored to the more unique problems that might befall models and other entertainers. “if a model gets a bad scratch on their face and can’t work, she would be covered, even though a regular working person wouldn’t get covered for a scratch,” Sergio Leccese, Elite USA’s chief financial officer, told WWD. “If a model gets injured on a shoot, the client’s insurance covers it, but if the injury is the fault of the model, she is covered by the model insurance. If the model damages someone or something during the shoot, she also has the third-party liabilities that cover models. Mental health is covered if it’s a consequence of an incident.”
Women’s Wear Daily doesn’t provide information as to whether that mental health coverage extends to incidents of harassment or abuse on shoots, as have been widely reported in recent years. However, in an industry that is notoriously exploitative of the often very young models it relies on, health insurance provisions at a top agency seem like a small step toward progress.