Under the Affordable Care Act, self-employed workers who buy health insurance can deduct the cost of their premiums on their tax returns. Those who don’t buy health insurance pay a fine. But even with this carrot-and-stick combination in effect, many freelancers still don’t have insurance.
In a new survey by Stride Health, a marketplace for individual insurance policies that partners with gig economy companies like Uber and TaskRabbit, 35% of full-time and part-time independent workers said they were uninsured. An earlier study commissioned by the Freelancers Union and freelance marketplace Upwork found that 20% of full-time freelancers were uninsured. Both of these numbers are much higher than the 10.5% of the general non-elderly population that the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates went without insurance in 2015.
The top reason for not buying insurance was cost, with 63% of uninsured respondents saying that they could not afford health care. Another 12% said they had simply missed the open enrollment period.
"Demand is there," says Stride Health CEO Noah Lang, noting that 38% of survey respondents said they plan on shopping for a new plan during the next Open Enrollment period and that he believes the survey is evidence that the ACA is beginning to work as intended. "There's still a lot of work to do."