The U.S. healthcare system was rocked on May 4, 2017 when the House passed the Republican-backed American Health Care Act (AHCA). Supporters of the bill celebrated this major step to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), put in place under the Obama administration in 2010. Meanwhile, opposing groups voiced their concerns, with many turning to social media and creating hashtags like #HealthHasNoParty and #IAmAPreexistingCondition.
While the AHCA is headed to the Senate, Americans are bracing themselves for the possible repeal of the ACA and what that could mean for different groups of people. WEGO Health – a network of more than 100,000 patient leaders, influencers and advocates, many of whom are working as part of the gig economy – set out to understand what one of the most impacted groups thinks about these changes.
The company surveyed members who suffer from chronic conditions to get their thoughts on how the repeal of the ACA would affect the freelance economy, portable benefits, or benefits tied to workers themselves, not employers and healthcare in general.
Some key findings include:
On Healthcare Reform
Seventy-nine percent of respondents feel there is some kind of need for healthcare reform, with a large majority agreeing there is room for improvement in the following areas:
• Coverage for the underprivileged – 87 percent agree
• Coverage for chronic conditions – 95 percent agree
• Out-of-pocket consumer costs – 91 percent agree
• Choice of provider – 89 percent agree
• Access to care for rural areas – 84 percent agree
• Access for freelancers/PT/contract workers – 90 percent agree
• Dedicated funds for chronic conditions research – 87 percent agree
If the ACA is repealed, 18 percent of respondents will look for full-time work, while 11.5 percent will go without insurance.
A few respondents elaborated on what actions they would take, should the ACA be repealed:
• I will worry about my son who would not have insurance for his seizure disorder.
• I will lose my Medicaid if ACA is repealed. ACA expanded Medicaid in IL. Pre-Obamacare, I could not afford insurance and was denied disability 3x despite having five illnesses. It will be extremely hard for me to work a full-time job because of my disability.
• I honestly don’t know. Physically it’s very hard for me to work full-time because of my pre-existing condition.
• I will die because they are attacking not only ACA but also Medicaid.
• This depends if I am still able to be covered as a person with an expensive pre-existing condition. If I can access affordable coverage, I will increase my student loan amount to pay for my health insurance or ask for help from my parents to pay for my insurance until I finish medical school and have an income.
• If I am not able to be covered affordably, I will likely be uninsured and utilize free clinics and other low-cost options.
• 61 percent are very worried about the potential repeal of ACA.
On Portable Benefits
• Eighty-five percent of respondents support offering portable benefits for people to take from job to job
• Healthcare coverage was ranked the most valuable benefit among respondents; sick time was rated the second most important
• Thirty-one percent spend over $500 out-of-pocket on health expenses every month
On the Freelance Economy
• Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe their employers hire freelancers for more affordability; 76 percent believe they want to minimize overhead
• A little more than a quarter (26 percent) have gone without insurance for at least six months
• Half (50 percent) of the respondents disagree that the benefits of freelance work outweigh the standard employer-provided benefits
WEGO Health was created by Jack Barrette, a former Yahoo! executive focused on lifestyles, health, and medicine. At Yahoo!, and throughout his career in healthcare, Jack has seen millions of people struggle to find credible, useful health information online. WEGO Health was born as a result of these experiences. Jack lives in Boston with his beloved wife and terriers. He believes fervently in giving back to the community through his non-profit work, and also in the health benefits of good wine.