Is Obamacare Inspiring Startup Businesses?

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obamacare-businessAccording to American Express Open Forum some experts and supporters of Obamacare have long believed that it could lead to a “mass wave of startup businesses.” Partly based on the ability to obtain affordable healthcare without a W-2, new public health exchanges and an insurer’s inability to deny everyday people coverage, it may be possible that we will soon see a new wave in American workers leaving behind their 9 to 5 work life for entrepreneurship.

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As noted within the article, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently predicted that 1.5 Americans will become self-employed, partly due to the Affordable Care Act. This is an increase of more than 11 percent from current statistics. The author of the paper suggests that “pre-reform job’ lock and the inability to get affordable coverage on the individual market prevented many Americans from quitting their job to start a business. Obamacare will give them the freedom to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.”

Though this study and other analysts predict favorable outcomes for new start-ups due to Obamacare, there are others who aren’t as optimistic. Scott Shane, an entrepreneurial studies professor at Case Western University, says he is “skeptical of such predictions”. His thoughts hinge upon the notion that many people, including those who are already self-employed, will see their health insurance premiums rise under Obamacare, which will in turn deter some from pursuing self-employment and also send those who are currently self-employed back to the workforce to obtain more affordable healthcare coverage.

As reported last Thursday, President Obama announced that his administration will allow health insurers to extend existing health plans on the individual and small-group markets into 2014. This policy will allow insurers to reach out to the millions of Americans who were dropped, or in jeopardy of being dropped, from their plans so that they may renew their insurance for another year while the market adjusts to new Obamacare regulations.

“I completely get how upsetting this could be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me” President Obama said from the White House briefing room. “To those Americans, I hear you loud and clear.”

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As it appears many self-employed, and those interested in being self-employed, are now facing difficult decisions regarding stepping out and maintaining affordable healthcare while pursuing entrepreneurial goals, does affordable healthcare play a major role in making that ultimate determination of seeking something as fulfilling as self- employment? I don’t believe so. However, I am also a newlywed with no children, my own business and a husband whose job provides health insurance for me.

My husband and I have had conversations about what predicament would I be in if his job did not extend coverage to me as an entrepreneur, and the answer was simple. I would get and pay for health insurance on my own as I have done in the past. Before I got married, Obamacare seemed to be the answer to my once costly predicament of maintaining insurance. I was eager to no longer worry about if I would be able to sustain as a self-employed individual due to increasing insurance costs. Since its inception, I have been privy to other entrepreneurs who are utterly disappointed in the increase in their premiums and also heard others rejoicing because they are no longer “living on the edge” with no health insurance.

Whatever side you are on, be it facing an increase in premiums, being dropped altogether or being ecstatic because you are now covered, I do not believe that the issue of healthcare is the make or break factor in deciding whether or not to pursue a start-up company. Entrepreneurship is undeniable. Once the vision hits to strike out on your own, nothing will keep you from going for it.

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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