Since the 1940s, health insurance has been tied to a traditional model of employment. You work 40 hours a week for a large corporation and in exchange you get health insurance on top of your wages. There’s always been a problem with this model, though: too many people fall through the cracks.
If you don’t or can’t work full time or you’re not married to someone who does, or if you work for a small business or freelance or run your own business, the cost of health insurance has traditionally been out of reach.
What’s more, full-time jobs are increasingly growing out of reach for many people as real hours have crept up and traditional employment has been replaced with freelancing and gig work. How can health insurance and healthcare keep up with the times?
In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed and it took legal effect in 1940. This set a minimum wage, outlawing certain child labor practices, and setting the work week at 40 hours a week with a right to time and a half for hours worked over 40 in a week. The average number of hours worked has risen steadily over the decades, and now the standard work week on average is 47 hours for full-time workers.
Also during this time period, women’s participation in the workforce increased.
- In 1950, less than 35% of women participated in the workforce.
- By 2000, that percentage peaked at 60 percent.
- Today 55% of women in America participate in the workforce.
More people are in the workforce, there’s less time to get things done at home, and the cost of living is on the rise. Individuals are feeling the squeeze from every side of their lifestyles.
This leaves little time or energy for things at home, which has given rise to a demand for more flexibility in the workplace.
This brings us back to the problem of being able to qualify for and afford health insurance.
Many workers are left with the option of working increasingly long hours at a full-time job or working freelance, gig, or part-time work and having to forego health insurance.
Millennials and GenZers are pushing back. Currently only one in three millennials feel the current healthcare system is working for them. As of 2017, more than half of millennials have worked in the gig economy, and that figure is rising and extending to other generations, as well.
As this trend continues, healthcare and health insurance will need to keep up with the times so people don’t fall through the cracks.
As the next major generations, millennials and GenZ are large, diverse, and unlikely to uphold the status quo.
- How will these industries adapt to suit the changing economy?
- What laws will need to change to ensure everyone has the options they need?
The future is coming, and healthcare needs to be prepared.