As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take the oath of office this week, Republicans in Congress have taken the first steps toward satisfying one of his most frequently stated campaign goals: repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
But what of the entrepreneurs who rely upon it — and those who may not have ever started businesses without it?
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that one in five people who get their insurance through the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplaces are either small business owners or are self-employed. In fact, the HHS determined that entrepreneurs and solopreneurs are three times more likely to secure health coverage through the ACA than traditional employees, a recent report from the Treasury Department says.
“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, workers without employer-sponsored health insurance often lacked options for affordable coverage,” HHS’s release states. These people struggled with what economists call “job lock,” or the perception that one is forced to stay at a given job in order to avoid losing coverage.
“Not only did high uninsured rates impede access to care and worsen financial security, but the risk of ending up without health insurance coverage prevented some individuals from striking out on their own,” the release continued.
Nevertheless, Senate Republicans began the process of repealing the ACA late last week in the first in a series of steps involved in dismantling the law. (Late last year, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell vowed that the repeal would be “the first item up in the new year.”) On Friday, Republicans in the House of Representatives followed suit.
Known also as Obamacare, the ACA provides health insurance to roughly 20 million people in the United States, HHS finds, and has resulted in “an historic reduction in the uninsured.” Opposition of the law from Republicans is steeped in a mixture of economic concerns and a distaste for “big government,” or perceived government overreach.
At present, no replacement for the ACA has been proposed by Republicans — nor have they said how they will provide access to affordable insurance for America’s greatest job creators, its entrepreneurs.