SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 25, 2016) - Stride Health, the only benefits platform built exclusively for independent workers, released a new survey today that sheds light on how gig workers access and use health insurance. The Affordable Care Act has enabled independent contractors and freelancers to get the health coverage they need outside of traditional employment, but many remain uninsured. Just ahead of this year's open enrollment period, Stride outlines the specific needs of independent workers in accessing and using individual health coverage.
Top findings from Stride's analysis include:
The Affordable Care Act improved access, but 35 percent of gig workers remain uninsured
The Affordable Care Act has made it easier for Americans without a traditional job to enroll in health insurance, but health coverage still remains one of the highest costs of working independently. While the majority of independent workers now view health insurance as a responsibility that they can actively manage, there is still a significant portion (35 percent) that remain uninsured due to lifestyle-specific challenges in navigating affordable coverage. This is almost three times the general US population uninsured rate.
Independent workers require unique guidance to access financial support
Most independent workers who go uninsured do so because of price (63 percent). While many know that government subsidies exist, most don't understand the complex rules around qualifying for assistance. Subsidies are directly based on each worker's income and take into account self-employed business expenses. The complexity of figuring out an expense-adjusted and fluctuating income stream often results in workers leaving either money or coverage on the table.
When asked to claim tax deductible expenses last year, 85 percent of gig workers applying for health insurance reported that they didn't claim any tax deductions, effectively missing out on additional subsidy assistance. This study's results reinforce that independent workers need unique tools and guidance to understand the financial impacts when accessing their health coverage options.
Only 14 percent of gig workers plan to remain uninsured next year
There's great news on the horizon: Only a small minority of uninsured independents (14 percent) plan to go without coverage again this open enrollment. The rest of the uninsured independent workers either plan to enroll in individual plans (45 percent), find coverage elsewhere (10 percent) -- 55 percent, collectively -- or are still undecided on how they will cover themselves and their families for 2017 (31 percent).
For both insured and uninsured, the largest portion of workers (38 percent) plan on shopping for a new plan during open enrollment. This finding realizes one of the ACA's overarching goals to consumerize health insurance: Independent workers are starting to shop critically and compare their plan options.
Independent workers will rely on new products and guidance to stay insured
"When it comes to health insurance enrollment, independent workers in the gig economy have unique challenges," said Noah Lang, CEO of Stride Health. "As this survey's results reflect, independent workers are ready to invest in their coverage options, but as a business-of-one they need tools and guidance to make the right decisions. Due to their self-employed incomes and expenses, independent workers have a vast array of opportunities to enroll in coverage while maximizing their premium subsidy opportunity. Unfortunately, that same -- often irregular -- income stream can make enrollment decisions more challenging for this critical, burgeoning part of America's workforce."
To view the full study findings and methodology, visit Stride Health.
About Stride Health
Stride makes health and independence achievable. The company supports independents' physical and financial well-being with tools for maximizing income and ensuring the sustainability of their businesses-of-one. Stride's health insurance recommendation engine connects independent workers to the best health insurance plans in all 50 states. Stride members' insurance coverage is managed by an award-winning advisory team and software that provides access to in-network medical practitioners, and negotiated drug prices at 70,000 local pharmacies. Stride Drive expands the suite of benefits available to independent workers with automated tax tracking and access to essential income protection.
Based in San Francisco and available nationwide, Stride Health (www.stridehealth.com) launched in early 2014 and is venture-backed by the leading health and consumer finance firms Venrock, New Enterprise Associates, and Fidelity's F-Prime Capital. The company delivers health coverage, care and tax support to the largest on-demand and capital marketplaces including Uber, Etsy, Care.com, TaskRabbit, and Postmates.