Open Enrollment Season: The Season that Really Matters for Millions of Gig Workers and the Self-Employed

From now until January 15, it’s Open Enrollment Season. It’s especially important for the Americans who work for themselves or for small employers that don’t provide health insurance.

Harmonic is on top of how businesses that serve gig workers and the self-employed (their financial institutions especially) can help their customers and the broader community get the right coverage.

The workforce is changing rapidly in the US. In the most recent American Opportunity Survey (AOS) by McKinsey, 36% of employed respondents identify as independent workers. This is equivalent to roughly 58MM American wage-earners. And it is an increase of 33% from the last measure in 2016.   

Whether a gig worker, an entrepreneur, or a consultant with specialized expertise, most likely an independent worker must identify, select, and pay for health insurance on their own. The vast majority of people who buy their own health insurance buy it via the government exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Very few individual health insurance policies are sold outside of the ACA program.

Given the growing trend towards independent work, we see Open Enrollment only becoming more important for Americans. The Open Enrollment period, November 1–January 15, is the Federally-mandated time in which Americans can select, update and/or renew individual plans for 2023. If an individual does not buy coverage during Open Enrollment, it is hard to get coverage for the following year, absent a significant life change (called a Qualifying Life Event in insurance speak).

The highest rates of independent work (35–40%) occur within the 18–24 and 25–34 age brackets. They are not only entering their prime buying power years and shifting their working style, but 1) starting parenthood (ie. needing to support dependents), 2) owning more property and vehicles (ie. needing additional insurance) and 3) becoming the leading group to society’s workforce for decades to come.

This group is changing the makeup of “work” in America as we know it, which is contributing to a major shift in how we support the livelihood of that workforce.

Forward-thinking businesses–from neobanks and gig worker communities to large businesses with extended contract workforce–can offer tools to help their independent workforce, customers, and the larger community during this crucial time period.

For example, informational tools about open enrollment can help independent workers: 

  1. See if they qualify for low or no-cost subsidized healthcare plans
  2. Select the right plan for themselves, their family, and their belongings
  3. Ensure that they have the correct insurance and/or help close the gap in their high deductible

Businesses and organizations can play a big part in securing this growing demographic’s health and financial security–as well as that of their growing families–by providing tools and information to help navigate open enrollment with confidence.

These organizations will not only help shape the foundational future of our new working economy, but help build their brand value by providing this crucial service early to a young, growing demographic looking for it.

*Citation: McKinsey & Company, August 2022.

To find out more about how you can help independent working Americans with Open Enrollment, contact us.
We’re here to help!