Love it or loathe it, Obamacare had a big impact on freelancers. According to data from consultancy MBO Partners, the percentage of full-time independent workers with health insurance shot up from 64 percent to 83 percent between 2013 and 2016.
Now President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have vowed to replace it with a new proposal that, despite Republican objections, will probably inevitably be referred to as Trumpcare (officially it's the American Health Care Act, aka AHCA). Passage of the hotly debated bill is far from assured, but if it does become law, how will freelancers and solopreneurs be affected?
Small business consultancy Emergent Research recently took a stab at guessing, posting its initial predictions to its blog. The post cautions that "the AHCA legislation will likely change before it's finalized," but with that caveat out of the way, should the bill pass in anything like it's current form, here's these experts' best guess at its impact.
Who wins and loses under the AHCA?
It's not particularly hard to figure out who wins and who loses under the proposed legislation, according to Emergent. By allowing insurance companies to charge older and sicker folks five times more than younger, healthier ones, compared to three times more under Obamacare, Trumpcare is clearly going to hurt freelancers with more gray hairs and fewer dollars the most.
Those self-employed "who are younger or have higher incomes will likely be better off under the Republican proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA, a.k.a. Trumpcare). Self-employed who are older or have lower incomes will likely be worse off," Emergent says.
Will Trumpcare discourage freelancing?
And how about those big gains in rates of coverage for freelancers under Obamacare? Would the advent of Trumpcare make it significantly harder for many freelancers to find affordable coverage? Would it discourage people from setting out on their own as independent workers? Not really, Emergent believes.
"The law will likely not have a major impact on the total number of people who are self-employed, at least over the next 3-5 years," it claims. That's because the new law keeps many of the provisions most responsible for the uptick in the number of insured freelancers, such as the rule prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage due to preexisting conditions.
But while the Republican proposal won't see masses of freelancers rethinking the costs of independence, it may nudge young and healthy independent workers to recalculate the costs and benefits of keeping up with their monthly health insurance premiums. The AHCA repeals the Obama-era mandate that everyone buy insurance or pay a fee. "This will likely result in larger numbers of younger and healthier self-employed choosing not to buy health insurance," predicts Emergent.
Looking for more information about how the new plan might affect you? Emergent points readers to the Kaiser Family Foundation. "They have a very nice interactive chart that looks at the AHCA by income, age and state," the post notes.
What's your reaction to the Republicans proposed healthcare overhaul -- fear, confusion, anger, jubilation?