According to data from the 2015 MBO Partners State of Independent study, the percentage of U.S. full-time independent workers/freelancers who report having health insurance increased from 64% in 2013 to 82% in 2015.
This increase in coverage means that roughly 3.2 million more freelancers have health insurance than in 2013.
Full-time independent workers are defined as those who work at least 15 hours a week as independent workers/freelancers (self-employed, independent contractors, etc.) in an average work week. Three quarters of full-time independents report working more than 30 hours in an average work week.
This increase in coverage can largely be attributed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – more popularly known as Obamacare - which went into effect in 2014.
The ACA makes health insurance more available, easier to buy and often cheaper for independent workers than it was prior to the ACA.
It also penalizes those without health insurance, so there are both carrot and stick incentives for independent workers to sign up.
Compared to all Americans, independent workers continue to be less likely to have health insurance. But the gap is closing fast. According to a Q1 2015 Gallup study, 88% of Americans have health insurance. This is up from 83% in 2013.
Independent workers in all age cohorts report increasing rates of health insurance coverage:
- Millennials (born 1980 to 2000) with health insurance increased from 52% in 2013 to 77% in 2025. The ACA’s rule that children aged 25 and under can remain on their parents' health plans helped drive this increase.
- Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1979) with health insurance increased from 54% in 2013 to 80% in 2015.
- Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) with health insurance increased from 74% to 77%.
The ACA continues to be controversial and there is much debate around whether it's a good thing or bad thing overall.
But it's clear it's a good thing for most independent workers.
The Affordable Care Act is also part of the growing ecosystem of support services making life as an independent worker/freelancer easier and more secure.
Disclosure: Emergent Research worked with MBO Partners on this study.