Concert workers enjoyed many benefits: flexibility, additional income opportunities and control over their time. But access to affordable, high-quality health insurance has not been one of the benefits. Until now.
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) adopted in March of this year, more and more concert workers are signing up for health insurance plans through Healthcare.gov – and they’re paying less for it.
Health insurance enrollments increased six-fold in April compared to the same time last year, according to new data from Stride, a benefits platform for the self-employed. Almost as many people have purchased health insurance since the start of the year as during the annual enrollment period open at the end of 2020, the company reported.
Among rideshare and delivery drivers who have purchased health insurance since March, 60% have signed up for higher tier Marketplace plans – Silver, Gold, and Platinum – a 33% jump since before the start of the ARP. The higher the metallic level, the more generous the coverage.
At the same time, the costs of coverage have decreased for these workers. The average premium for carpooling and delivery drivers fell by more than half, from $ 171 in March to an average of $ 80 since then.
The vast majority (93%) of the self-employed got subsidies to lower the cost of health insurance, up from 87% in March.
Perhaps most notably, 37% of self-employed drivers on the Stride platform pay less than $ 1 per month for their health insurance, almost double the percentage paying so little in March.
In 2020, before ARP was put in place, 9.1 million people who signed up for Marketplace health insurance received some form of subsidy through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But the ARP has dramatically broadened grant eligibility and increased the absolute amount of financial assistance people can get.
People earning between 100% and 150% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) – which equates to $ 12,880 to $ 19,320 per year for an individual – are eligible for zero premium coverage. This group was expected to pay up to 2% of their income into bonuses.
Eligibility for Premium Tax Credits (PTC), a form of ACA grants, stopped at 400% of FPL, or $ 51,520 per year for an individual. Above this income level, people did not receive any subsidy, called a “subsidy cliff”.
The ARP takes a different approach, at least for this year and next. Instead of a strict income-based eligibility threshold, ARP guarantees that no one will have to pay more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance premiums, regardless of the amount of their income. income.
People receiving unemployment benefits in 2021 also get the maximum subsidy and pay no premium for Marketplace coverage.
Before the enactment of the ARP, it was estimated that 15 million Americans without health insurance were eligible for grants. It is projected that an additional 10 million that were already insured through the marketplace could save money with the new grants.
Many of those eligible Americans are likely to work for concerts, an increasingly important segment of the U.S. economy. Although estimates vary, up to 55 million people, or about a third of the workforce, were temporary workers in 2017.
The US Secretary of Labor recently supported the idea that some concert workers should be classified as employees, which would entitle them to fringe benefits.
Non-standard workers (self-employed, temporary workers, and part-time workers) are more likely to be uninsured than people in more standard full-time jobs. More than 30% of the self-employed, for example, were not insured against only 12% of salaried workers.
“Clearly, there is a strong demand for affordable, quality health insurance among workers in the odd-job economy,” Noah Lang, co-founder and CEO of Stride, said in a statement.
The Biden administration wants to extend the enhanced grants to meet this demand. He also hopes to permanently extend the annual 30-day open enrollment.
For now, however, anyone can register and access grants during a special registration period that ends August 15, 2021. Once this window closes, the next chance to register will take place at annual registration open, from November 1 to December. 15, 2021.