Affordable Care Act Swelling Ranks Of Self-Employed, Report Says

By Joe Lawlor
Portland Press Herald, Maine.

Lisa Mae Parker loves baking and had long desired to launch a home-based business, but for most of the last two decades, she kept her aspirations at bay to work jobs so she could have health insurance.

“I was miserable, and I was making everyone else around me miserable,” said Parker, 54, of Parsonsfield, who had worked in retail and at grocery stores since the 1990s. “It was hard for me to go to work for somebody else, punch a time clock and not be creative.”

But this fall, Parker began Cakes for All Seasons — her home baking venture — and she’s now busy designing elaborate gingerbread houses and wedding cakes.

Parker says the Affordable Care Act gave her the freedom to leave her job and join the ranks of the self-employed.

Some economists and health experts say the ACA is spurring people to quit their jobs to pursue self-employment — and the trend is already starting to reap benefits for the economy as people feel free to pursue their desired careers. While the numbers are just starting to roll in because key ACA reforms have been in place less than a year, a 2014 report says 7,000 more Mainers will be self-employed in the coming years, in large part due to the new law. Also, more people in 2014 are choosing to work part time, for similar reasons, according to another study.

“Baking is my passion,” said Parker, who acquired insurance this year through the ACA. “This is always what I’ve really wanted to do.”

Parker said 21 years ago she also started up a home baking business, but with a young daughter at home, she had to shut it down in order to take a job that offered insurance benefits.

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