When President Obama signed the 2010 Affordable Care Act into law, it did more than simply allow more US citizens access to better healthcare. Not only were people with preexisting conditions suddenly more eligible for basic health insurance, but that same insurance was affordable for the unemployed, the self-employed, and small-business owners that had to provide insurance to their employees. Students like me knew we wouldn’t have to worry about losing our insurance once we moved away from home, to pursue our dreams. It bolstered emerging industries, as well as other well-established ones in the medical field. It created jobs, gave the economy a big shot of adrenaline, and understandably saved many lives.
For many of us, it opened new doors for better women’s health, better LGBTQ+ focus, and more. I was finally able to get birth control without having to pay so much. I was finally able to find someone to talk to about my depression. But on top of everything else, it offered a simpler way to get physical and mental health care for those of us not working a 9 to 5 day job.
For freelancers doing art or photography, for entrepreneurs, or even for stay-at-home parents, the fact that affordable health care was now in our reach meant another thing off our plate of things to worry about. For me, it meant I could finally go to the doctor when I thought I had Strep Throat instead of having to just wait it out, hoping it’d go away on its own (it doesn’t).
With the dissolving of ACA, however, and the impending AHCA set to replace it, suddenly those benefits for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and dreamers like us are at risk again.
Whether you’re worried about actual medical procedures like dental work, or maybe offering service animals to veterans, the elderly, or the disabled, or simply the state of the medical workforce under ACA, there’s more to lose than just healthcare a regular working person can afford.
If you were going to school to be a nurse, for example, I would be worried — there might not be a job when you graduate. If you’re hoping to be a content creator, I would be worried — there might not be a way for you to get insurance at all, unless you make it big. Like, really big. Tyler Oakley big.
Not only did ACA open up the need for more doctors and nurses to join the fray, creating thousands of jobs in one fell swoop, it offered new opportunities for patients seeking mental health care. As someone with undiagnosed depression, this was a godsend. Before then, mental health had been mostly ignored by healthcare plans, despite the fact that most industry observers see mental health providers as a core part of the medical workforce of the future.
What does any of this have to do with healthcare as an entrepreneur?
To quote Marketwatch, “Independent workers have always been able to shop for coverage in the individual insurance market, but many were pushed into pricier high-risk pools if they had a pre-existing medical condition.” This means that for anyone working from home, like small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, healthcare was far out of reach, particularly for those just starting out and unable to afford high premiums (aka for the non-Tyler Oakleys of the world.)
With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, not only did premiums fall into reach of those who needed insurance, it also made it more difficult for insurance companies to “cherry-pick” their clients based on pre-existing conditions — conditions that may have lead many freelancers to quit the standard workforce in the first place.
For people suffering from both visible and invisible disabilities, working in an office every day isn’t always within reach. Some people just want to be their own boss, want to pave their own way in the world on their own terms and with their own rules. They want to not only make their own lives, but contribute to the economy with a respectable career as a small business owner, a freelancer, an entrepreneur — and such people should not be punished financially, medically, for pursuing their dreams of a better life. Their dreams, which perfectly coincide with “The American Dream.”
With the threat of AHCA, many of the things like lower premiums and rules against preexisting conditions are going to be lost.
Brent Messenger from Fiverr, in an interview with APlus.com, said this: “Generally speaking, ACA has spawned entrepreneurialism. It’s allowed people to take risks and pursue passions and do things they might not otherwise do. It’s taken people away from that notion of job lock.”
While Messenger goes on to admit that, of course, Obamacare is far from perfect, it at least was the best option being laid down by the US government, particularly in favor of those working from home or starting their own businesses. With the introduction of AHCA, the United States’ “entrepreneurialism” is at more risk than ever.
“The Affordable Care Act has spawned entrepreneurialism. It’s allowed people to take risks and pursue passions and do things they might not otherwise do. It’s taken people away from that notion of job lock.”
How do we stop it?
We must do this until they finally understand why AHCA is so destructive for small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere. Flooding their phone lines, not allowing them a moment of respite, a moment to sleep, ensuring they’re well aware of what their constituents want, and what’ll happen if they don’t obey.
Naturally, it’s important to do so politely, professionally, coherently, and most importantly, with confidence — after all, what’s more frightening than a tiger poised to attack, all the while maintaining eye contact with their target?
When our representatives are already speaking out on our behalf, refusing to take part in voting for this bill that’ll uproot the lives of so many people, we can’t forget to reach out and thank them, too. For one of the most thankless jobs in modern society, even just a brief message may just reignite the fire underneath our elected officials, assuring them there are people watching, waiting, and grateful for their efforts. We’re watching, we’re waiting, and we’re grateful.
For more information on how to find and contact your representatives, click here.
Together, we must use our voices to not only save ourselves, but to save others. To save those outside of the entrepreneurial sphere, those who cannot afford otherwise to receive the healthcare they need. This battle is about more than those below the poverty line, those owning their own businesses, students, families, average people — it’s about all of us.
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