Andy Hyman, who leads health coverage programs at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said beginning next year, access to high-quality, subsidized health insurance coverage will no longer be exclusively tied to employment, which could lead people to pursue their own businesses as self-employed entrepreneurs.
Traditionally, individuals considering leaving their job to strike out on their own have worried that they may be denied health insurance coverage because they have pre-existing conditions, fear losing access to a trusted physician, or are unable to afford the premiums without an employer sharing the costs.
As a result, some U.S. workers feel "job lock," being tethered to their jobs and unable to leave, even if their skills and talents no longer match their position, Hyman said.
The Affordable Care Act provisions might encourage more people to start their own business include:
-- No applicant can be turned down because of a pre-existing condition.
-- Individuals cannot be charged higher premiums because of their health status.
-- Insurers must offer plans with a comprehensive set of essential health benefits.
-- Tax credits to help low- or moderate-income individuals and families will reduce premium costs.
-- Medicaid expansion, in some states, will provide coverage for those with the lowest incomes.
"By ensuring that people can't be discriminated against when they buy health insurance and helping those with modest incomes cover the cost of premiums, healthcare reform could help create a new generation of self-employed entrepreneurs," Hyman said in a statement. "Having access to affordable insurance on the open market is what millions of people need to become their own boss."
The researchers said evidence of pre-reform job lock -- along with empirical research demonstrating a significant increase in self-employment in states that have already initiated some health reforms -- strongly suggest the number of self-employed individuals in the United States will increase with full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.