by Craig Boerner

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the National Business Association are teaming up to provide a comprehensive and affordable insurance plan for Country Music Association (CMA) members and their families.

CMA is rolling out the exclusive offering - CMA Sound Healthcare - to its membership beginning this month.

"We view this offering as a way to strengthen our relations with the music industry," said VUMC Associate Vice Chancellor C. Wright Pinson, M.D.

"The program brings each of our strengths together to help CMA members and their families get affordable insurance coverage with better benefits."

Musicians are historically one of the nation’s most uninsurable groups, but VUMC Manager of Music Industry Relations Tatum Hauck said the plan is an excellent example of how the music and health care industries can collaborate to make great things happen.

"It is a really big deal to the music industry," Hauck said. "And it raises the ‘magnolia curtain’ for Vanderbilt.

"What made it so neat is that it was never about money, it was about helping the industry in a preventive sense. It was about ‘Let’s get this group healthy.’ It feels good."

The plan targets CMA members who are self-employed, or cannot find coverage to suit their interests or family budget. Some musicians are members of small businesses without viable insurance options.

"Making medical insurance available to CMA members, including those who operate independently as artists or entrepreneurs, is a tremendous benefit to our industry," said CMA Chief Operating Officer Tammy Genovese.

"CMA is proud to launch CMA Sound Healthcare with our partners at the National Business Association and Vanderbilt Medical Center."

The insurance plan was initiated by CMA Board Member Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn and followed through by Hauck, who leads Vanderbilt’s recently-created Office of Music Industry Relations.

Hauck discussed the idea with friend and producer Bill VornDick during a Tennessee Titans game. VornDick sent her to Regional National Business Association Director RJ Stillwell, who had helped him negotiate his own insurance policy.

Stillwell had previous experience setting up insurance policies for independent contractors, including realtors, attorneys, small-practice physicians and locksmiths. His organization also boasts 25 years of experience as an advocate in other areas, such as education and lifestyle, as well as an active lobbying presence on Capitol Hill, and a history of cooperation with the Insurance of America Agency, which focuses exclusively on maximizing coverage choices for the self-employed and small businesses.

The plan utilizes 10 different providers to allow for several options while keeping expenses low. One option from Signature Health Alliance allows for a 90/10 split of expenses for care at VUMC, besting the industry norm by 10 percent.

It addresses the needs of traveling musicians with a 24-hour phone line to assist with non-emergencies ranging from a sore throat to the flu to occupational hazards such as vocal strain and hearing loss. In Nashville, the Vanderbilt Voice Center has treated music’s A-list of entertainers since 1986 and is now recognized among the best in the world.

"Those are little ways we can build our long-term relationships with musicians and the industry without asking for handouts," Hauck said.

"We’re not just saying ‘Hey, give us money’ but saying, ‘We have a great health care facility here, let’s figure out ways we can help each other.’ This private label insurance program will be an exclusive offering to the CMA to help insure those who may not have had the opportunity or couldn’t afford insurance before."

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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