Posts Tagged ‘self employment’

Growth in self employment points to need for non-group medical coverage

June 7th, 2017 Comments off

Another reason insurers will likely return or work to remain in the individual market is that it’s part of the future of health care, says Counihan. With so many people now working for themselves in the “gig economy,” he says, selling insurance “is going to be more business-to-consumer than business-to-business.””This market could grow,” agrees Giesa. “And I don’t think [insurance companies] want to be left out completely from this market if there’s an opportunity to break even, or make a little money. “In the end, says Counihan, regardless of what he considers the Trump administration’s “disorganized neglect, I think this market is here to stay.”

Source: What Happens If The Individual Health Insurance Market Crashes? : Shots – Health News : NPR

Kevin Counihan served as head of the Department of Health Service’s insurance exchange program in the Obama administration. Kurt Giesa is an actuarial expert at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

While most working age Americans are covered by employer medical benefit plans that have dominated since the 1940s, there are indications this is changing and pointing to the need for a viable method of financing medical care outside of employer group coverage. The executive summary of a recent McKinsey Global Research survey reports 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population in the United States and the EU-15 countries are engaged in some form of non-employment vocation.


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email or call 530-295-1473. 

Multiple factors skew plan year 2014 enrollment toward older population

November 8th, 2013 Comments off

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seeks to achieve a better spread of risk in state individual health insurance markets by requiring heath plan issuers to accept all applicants for coverage without medical underwriting and treating all enrolled individuals as part of a single statewide risk pool effective January 1, 2014. In addition, the law bars individuals from “going bare” without any form of health coverage under pain of a tax penalty. This provision is largely aimed at young adults who aren’t covered under their parents’ plans and are less likely than older people to incur high medical treatment costs. To broaden the pool to include them, the ACA also imposes a flatter premium pricing structure so that older individuals can be charged a maximum of three times the rate charged young people.

Policy wonks worry too few young adults will enroll in coverage, leading to an actuarially unsustainable risk pool overly populated by higher cost older individuals. Those concerns are underscored by early reports on state health benefit exchange enrollment such as this Wall Street Journal item indicating initial exchange enrollees tend to be older. While the WSJ story characterizes the trend as unexpected, I think it’s entirely expected since the greatest pent up demand likely exists among older individuals not yet eligible for Medicare and who have gone without coverage – in many instances for years – due to unaffordable premiums or rejection by health plans based on their health histories.

Socio-economic factors are also likely to initially hinder the goal of getting sufficient numbers of so-called “young invincibles” into state risk pools to better balance out risk for plan issuers. The vast majority of working age Americans continues to equate health coverage with employment. This is probably even more the case with young adults more dependent on employment income than older adults who have more education and work experience and thus in a better position to sustain themselves though self-employment. Over the short term, going without coverage while seeking a job with health benefits (and paying the modest $95 first year tax penalty) may factor as a rational financial calculation for many unemployed young adults, particularly when money is tight and there’s little to pay for individual health coverage.


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email or call 530-295-1473. 

Shifting employment landscape complicates ACA implementation

August 6th, 2013 Comments off

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was drafted, it contemplated preservation of employer-based health coverage that came about in the 1940s and which continues to serve as the primary form of coverage for working age Americans.  In preserving employer-based coverage, the Affordable Care Act assumes most people will continue to obtain their incomes – and their health coverage – via full time employment.

It also assumes small employers will for the most part want to provide health benefits to their employees provided they have access to quality, affordable plans, reinforced by the law’s reforms of small group markets and pooling their purchasing power via the health benefit exchange Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

However, there are multiple, large scale shifts altering employment in the United States and the health benefits that have historically come with it for more than six decades:


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email or call 530-295-1473. 

Health reform law will boost entrepreneurship and lessen Americans’ dependence on employment and employer sponsored health coverage

October 5th, 2012 Comments off

A major and not yet fully appreciated benefit of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is it will boost entrepreneurship by giving would be entrepreneurs greater confidence to strike out on their own.  At the same time, it will reduce Americans’ reliance on employment for both income and health coverage.  Anything that will bolster the confidence of those looking to start new enterprises or work for themselves is a great thing as the economy crawls out of a deep and long recession.

The health reform law does so by two key mechanisms beginning January 1, 2014: 1) Barring health plans from using an individual’s medical history in deciding who to accept and the amount of their premiums and; 2) Creating in each state health benefit exchanges, providing budding entrepreneurs and self employeds an online marketplace of high quality health plans.  Advance tax credits make coverage affordable by limiting how much they’ll have to pay for coverage until their incomes exceed 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Being able to buy affordable coverage on their own through health benefit exchanges without having to rely on an employer sponsored health plan also correlates nicely with the growth of self-employed “free agents” such as Kansas City’s Mike Farmer, whose one-person company was profiled in this New York Times articleThe Times cites Census Bureau data showing the number of nonemployer businesses like Farmer’s grew by 33.8 percent from 2000 to 2010.  “I think we’re all headed toward an agent economy, where everyone becomes an agent or a service provider instead of an employee at some big corporation,” Farmer, whose mobile search app, Leap2, now has 10,000 users, told the newspaper. “That’s just how the world is evolving. It’s like telecommuting, but it’s taken to the level of telecompanies.”

Farmer’s reference to “telecompanies” has another name: virtual companies.  Regardless of the terminology, Farmer’s onto something. Working for a large employer that requires a daily commute to an office building is increasingly becoming obsolete, courtesy of that great disrupter: the Internet.  It makes self-employment far easier than it was just five years ago and reduces reliance on traditional employment for both income and health coverage.  From a health perspective, that’s a virtuous trend, given indications that self-employed people are happier and healthier than traditional workers.

To the extent the health reform law makes it easier for Americans to earn their own incomes and not have to rely on an employer for health coverage and access to health care, it could well also be reinforcing healthier lifestyles over the toxic, sedentary commuter lifestyle that typically accompanies traditional employment and can lead to costly chronic health conditions.  That’s a huge health reform in and of itself.


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email or call 530-295-1473. 

Health benefit exchanges, community rating could reinforce, boost self employment trend

February 19th, 2012 Comments off

Like the Clinton administration’s comprehensive health care reform proposal of the 1990s, a key goal of the Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is having all Americans medically insured though public or private health plans.  Since coverage gaps largely occur with private coverage, private market reform is central to the reforms of both administrations.

Since most working age Americans have employer-paid coverage, the Clinton administration’s reforms would have required all employers to cover their employees so that none had to obtain their own coverage in the individual market or be medically uninsured.  Rather than the Clinton administration’s employer mandate, the Obama administration instead placed the mandate on individuals, requiring all Americans to have medical coverage by 2014.  Key to the individual mandate in the PPACA is the law’s state health benefit exchanges to provide an insurance marketplace for small employers and individuals.

If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the individual mandate later this year, it could mesh well what some observers believe is a trend toward more temporary and self-employment.  This trend has seen a significant boost in recent years as employers hire fewer people to do the same work or adopt processes that require fewer permanent staff.  This in turn has led to growing numbers of temporary and self-employed people.

Since these workers aren’t covered by employer-provided plans and must obtain health coverage on their own, they will benefit from the exchanges where participating insurers will be required to offer coverage with minimum coverages and premiums determined using modified community-based rating versus medical underwriting.  As 2014 draws closer, the exchanges could in turn encourage more to deliberately choose temporary and self-employment.  Many who might otherwise work for themselves balk at the prospect of having to find health coverage in the existing individual market where they can be declined for pre-existing medical conditions and don’t benefit from group purchasing power the exchanges would provide.  The exchanges and the PPACA’s mandates that all individuals have coverage and health plans and insurers accept all applicants regardless of medical history would significantly mitigate this disincentive for those considering self-employment.


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email or call 530-295-1473. 

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