For millions of people, the gig economy is a way to earn a living without holding a traditional job. While Obamacare had plenty of criticism, it’s made health insurance accessible for people who live and work in the gig economy.
With President Donald Trump now in office, his plans for repealing Obamacare could have a significant impact on freelancers and side hustlers.
Below, find out how a repeal of Obamacare can affect people who work in the gig economy.
Where the repeal stands
Republicans are working towards a bitter fight to end the Affordable Care Act. On January 12, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Republicans will repeal Obamacare and implement a replacement plan at the same time.
Regarding timing, Ryan said Republicans are working as quickly as possible, but do not have a set date. However, he did say they are looking to take action within the first 100 days of President Donald Trump taking office.
Politicians, including both Republicans and Democrats, are urging caution. According to a new report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a full repeal would cost $350 billion over the next decade.
That number does not include the cost of a replacement healthcare plan, which could add substantially to the federal budget deficit.
Losing health care coverage
Tara Bosler is a freelance writer and a mother of a young daughter. She relies on the Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Marketplace for health care coverage for herself and her child.
“Because I am starting out in my freelancing business and not making millions yet, I have a nicely subsidized payment that is pretty affordable for me,” says Bosler.
Bosler is worried about what will come in the future if Obamacare is repealed.
“A repeal of Obamacare would likely be financially very difficult since my insurance would no longer be subsidized and therefore would be almost four times what I’m paying now,” says Bosler. “Without it, paying for healthcare for myself and my child would become much more of a financial burden.”
Bosler is not alone. Even with worries about repeal, 6.4 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the health care exchange. Without that option, would-be freelancers and entrepreneurs will face higher health care costs.
Concerns over individual aspects
Adam Bensman is also a freelance writer, but unlike Bosler, he supports a repeal of Obamacare.
“I’ve attempted to buy coverage through Healthcare.gov and it was an absolute nightmare. It’s overly complicated, confusing, frustrating, and takes forever,” says Bensman.
And the coverage Bensman was able to get was worse than his previous coverage.
“My private insurance before Obamacare was a thousand times better. With Obamacare, my premiums increased and my coverage is laughable at best,” says Bensman.
However, Bensman does admit that Obamacare had one positive. It provided coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions, something that was previously very difficult. For freelancers and side hustlers with health conditions, Obamacare was a positive change.
“Obamacare had one positive and one positive only,” says Bensman. “It allowed everyone, regardless of pre-existing health condition, to get health insurance. I am hoping Obamacare gets repealed, with the exception of the pre-existing condition component.”
Republicans, including Paul Ryan, have said the pre-existing condition component is one of few aspects of the Affordable Care Act they would retain. It’s likely that will carry over to the replacement plan.
What you can do to prepare
If you participate in the gig economy and rely on Obamacare, it’s important to take action now to prepare for a potential repeal.
Sign up for health insurance via Healthcare.gov now. Open enrollment for 2017 closes on January 31. If there is a repeal, people who are signed up may be grandfathered in. It’s a way to ensure you have coverage for another year.
Putting off any medical appointments? Schedule them as soon as possible. If you have prescriptions you need to fill, fill them now. You’ll have your necessary medications without worrying about prescription costs.
Republican leadership is focused on repealing Obamacare. They are likely going to face significant opposition and difficulties. It’s unclear how things will play out, but it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution.
If you’re part of the gig economy and need health insurance, check out this article on affordable healthcare alternatives.
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