Part of an Obamacare registration drive last week in San Francisco wasdubbed the "Healthy Ho's Party."NEW YORK CNNMoney)
A burlesque dancer dressed as a nurse taunts her co-performer with a toy syringe, dangling the medicine seductively in an act that's meant to reflect the cat-and-mouse game of U.S. healthcare. They shimmy and eventually end up topless.
The risqué performance was part of an Obamacare registration drive last week in San Francisco, dubbed the "Healthy Ho's Party."
Organized by "Siouxsie Q," a Bay Area sex worker, the event was meant to encourage other sex workers to enroll in the new insurance exchanges. It was a rousing success: Nearly 40 men and women attended and almost all of them filed enrollment paperwork.
In the all-cash, off-the-books sex industry, workers can be particularly high risk and insurance is often out of reach. Many sex workers -- a broad term that can refer to a number of services, including sexual massage, prostitution, and escort and dominatrix work -- consider themselves self-employed entrepreneurs who can't afford to purchase healthcare. But that could all change with the Affordable Care Act.
Siouxsie, 28, has shopped for plans countless times since 2008, coming up empty each time. She and her partner recently reviewed their healthcare options and found that a joint plan would have cost between $400 and $500 a month -- an unaffordably large chunk of their incomes.
"We just couldn't swing [insurance] in the Bay Area -- we're lower middle class, recent college graduates, in Startup Land trying to make our way," she said.
But come January 1, when the new law goes into effect, she and her partner will be looking at a monthly bill of between $175 and $200. They're deciding between two plans on the California exchange and will receive a tax credit of about $275 a month (without the credit it would have cost nearly $500).
California's exchange site was down the first few times Siouxsie tried to navigate it, but she was able to successfully browse policies several times. (She nevertheless arrived at the party with stacks of paper applications so the night could continue even if the website was disrupted.)