If Gainesville wants to be a breeding ground for innovation, getting affordable health care for entrepreneurs should help unlock their ability to start their own businesses.
A 2011 study by the Rand Corporation found that the U.S. system of employer-provided health care deterred people from quitting their day jobs to start businesses. A story last week on National Public Radio referred to that barrier to starting a business as job lock or entrepreneur lock.
The Rand study found that self-employment and entrepreneurship could increase by a third if health insurance was more affordable and accessible — exactly what the Affordable Care Act aims to make happen.
“To the extent the Affordable Care Act unlocks that job lock — that entrepreneur lock — one effect is to provide a boost to entrepreneurship overall,” Dane Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, told NPR.
As of Monday, 5 million people had signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. With a March 31 deadline looming for individuals to get coverage, the numbers might fall short of the 6 million predicted to be enrolled by that time.
Younger people are one group that has been below enrollment goals. The latest breakdown shows that Americans ages 18 to 34 comprise about a quarter of the enrollment population, well under the Obama administration’s goal of 38 percent.
An event Tuesday at the University of Florida is part of efforts to get young people to enroll. WellFlorida, a group that oversees the navigators who help people in that process, was there.
UF students benefit from the act’s provision allowing people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, but “still some students will fall through the cracks,” Jeff Feller, CEO of WellFlorida, told The Sun.
Young people are often called “young invincibles” due to their feeling that they don’t need health coverage. But UF and Santa Fe College students should view coverage in a similar way as their educations: an investment in the future.
A medical emergency can be physically and financially devastating. Unpaid medical bills are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy filings, affecting about 2 million people annually, according to a study last year from NerdWallet, a financial information website.
A separate study by NerdWallet found that Alachua County will benefit the most of all Florida counties from the Affordable Care Act. The reasons include high local numbers of primary care doctors and uninsured residents.
Add the possibility of more startup businesses to the list. The Kauffman Foundation‘s Stangler told NPR that the Affordable Care Act could boost employment by creating around 25,000 additional businesses each year.
If the act helps innovative local residents escape entrepreneur lock to start their own businesses, it should help the area’s economy as well as its health.