With August 15 health insurance deadline looming, many gig workers risk missing out on their savings, new data shows
With Healthcare.gov’s special enrollment period due to end on August 15, one group seems to be at risk of missing out on low-cost, high-quality health insurance: workers in the odd-job economy.
According to data to be released this week from Stride health, a benefits platform for the self-employed, 31% of independent contractors and self-employed workers surveyed were uninsured, three times the overall rate of Americans uninsured.
Among uninsured workers in the Stride survey, conducted in July 2021, cost was the top reason for not having health insurance. Sixty-four percent of uninsured respondents said they didn’t think they could afford health insurance.
In reality, the cost of quality health insurance may not be as big a barrier as many workers think.
Data previously released by the company showed that 93% of self-employed people who purchased health insurance through Healthcare.gov were eligible for grants to offset health insurance costs. According to this data, survey respondents paid an average of $ 80 in monthly premiums and 37% paid less than $ 1 per month for coverage.
Many self-employed people don’t know their costs could be so low. Almost 80% of gig workers who are uninsured because of the cost were unaware of the grants available to millions of Americans due to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP).
According to Noah Lang, co-founder and CEO of Stride, contributing to low awareness of savings opportunities is outright misinformation.
Although Lang has said he is trying to stay out of politics, he has heard from many workers who believe Donald Trump got rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created Healthcare.gov and individual health insurance options for people who are not covered. through a job.
“I meet people every week who think that you can no longer have access to subsidies for your health insurance because the Affordable Care Act [is] gone, ”Lang said.
Not only is the ACA still the law of the land, but it has been supercharged by the ARP, according to Lang.
Adopted in March 2021, the ARP extends access to grants to more people, effectively reducing monthly premiums by an average of $ 50 per person. According to Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers (CMS), four in five registrants can find a health insurance plan for $ 10 a month or less after tax credits.
Access to affordable health insurance outside of traditional employment situations, where 50% of American workers have health insurance– will become more and more important as the economy of odd jobs develops.
Today, more than a third of the U.S. workforce participates in the odd-job economy, with an estimated 59 million Americans working independently full or part-time, according to a Work investigation.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, 12% of American workers began self-employment, more than half (54%) out of necessity. Virtually all of the freelancers surveyed indicated that they intend to continue working as freelancers and the total number of freelancers in the United States is expected to reach 90 million by 2028.
For these workers, health insurance will continue to be something they have to manage on their own.
“Everything in your paycheck has been unbundled to [nearly] 60 million Americans now, ”Lang said.
This unbundling is perhaps long overdue. The current employment-based health insurance system dates back to the days of World War II, but the nature of work has changed dramatically since then.
When the pandemic led to record unemployment, the dual health and economic crisis exposed the weaknesses of the employers’ compensation system.
A Brooking Report 2020 on proposed post-pandemic labor policies calls for portable benefits that are tied to hours worked rather than to work itself as a means of protecting workers.
Lang said he hopes policymakers will pass regulations that allow benefits to catch up with today’s nature of work and encourage the evolution of how gig workers like rideshare and delivery drivers get. advantages.
“Imagine a world where you can change jobs and never have to change your health plan or 401k provider,” Lang said. “Imagine a world where you can get contributions from your employer [or] your work platform, regardless of your job classification or its flexibility or rigidity. “
The resulting safety net would be transferable to workers and could lessen the financial disadvantages faced by concert workers.
” This does not mean [you’d] to reap benefits for the people who benefit from them, ”Lang said. “It just means creating a level playing field for blanket that… you can take anywhere you go. “
While Healthcare.gov is open, Lang is urging people to see if they are eligible for subsidized health insurance.
“If you don’t have a blanket, go get it,” he said. Even if you have coverage, Lang still recommends checking out the options.
“Make sure you don’t miss out on something,” he said. “Chances are, you can get it for a lot less than you think and absolutely a lot less than before.”