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Gig Workers Paying 54% Less For Health Insurance, New Data Shows



Gig workers have enjoyed many benefits: flexibility, added income opportunities, and control over their time. But access to affordable, high-quality health insurance has not been one of the perks. Until now.

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) passed in March of this year, more gig workers are enrolling in health insurance plans via—and they’re paying less for it. 

According to new data from Stride, a benefits platform for independent workers, health insurance enrollment increased sixfold in April compared to the same time last year. Year to date, nearly as many people have signed up for health insurance as did during the annual open enrollment period at the end of 2020, the company reported.

Of rideshare and delivery drivers who have signed up for health insurance since March, 60% have enrolled in higher-tier Marketplace plans—Silver, Gold, and Platinum—a 33% jump since before the ARP became law. The higher the metallic tier, the more generous the coverage.

At the same time, the costs for coverage have gone down for these workers. The average premium for rideshare and delivery drivers dropped by more than half, from $171 in March to an average of $80 since then. 

The vast majority (93%) of independent workers got subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance, up from 87% in March. 

Perhaps most notably, 37% of independent drivers on the Stride platform are paying less than $1 per month for their health insurance, nearly double the percentage paying so little in March.

In 2020, before the ARP was put in place, 9.1 million who had enrolled in Marketplace health insurance got some form of subsidy thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But the ARP substantially expanded eligibility for subsidies and increased the absolute amount of financial assistance people can get.

People earning between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL)—equivalent to $12,880 to $19,320 per year for an individual—can qualify for zero-premium coverage. This group used to be expected to pay up to 2% of their income toward premiums. 

Eligibility for Premium Tax Credits (PTCs), one form of ACA subsidies, used to stop at 400% of the FPL, or $51,520 per year for an individual. Above that income level, people got no subsidies, called “subsidy cliff.”

The ARP takes a different approach, at least for this year and next. Instead of a sharp eligibility cut-off based on income, the ARP ensures that no one will have to pay more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance premiums, no matter how much they earn. 

People on unemployment benefits in 2021 also get the maximum subsidy and pay no premiums for Marketplace coverage. 

Before the ARP was enacted, an estimated 15 million Americans without health insurance were thought to be eligible for subsidies. Another 10 million who were already insured via the Marketplace were projected to be able to save money with the new subsidies. 

It’s likely that many of these eligible Americans are doing gig work, an increasingly large segment of the U.S. economy. Though estimates vary, as many as 55 million people, or approximately one-third of the workforce, were gig workers in 2017.  

The U.S. Secretary of Labor recently backed the idea that some gig workers should be classified as employees, which would entitle them to employee benefits.

Non-standard workers—freelancers, temporary workers, and part-time workers—are more likely to be uninsured than people employed in more standard full-time jobs. More than 30% of freelancers, for example, were uninsured compared with just 12% of employed workers. 

“Clearly, there’s strong demand for quality, affordable health insurance among gig economy workers,” Noah Lang, cofounder and CEO of Stride, said in a statement.

The Biden Administration wants to extend the enhanced subsidies to meet this demand. It also hopes to permanently expand annual Open Enrollment by 30 days.

For now, though, anyone can enroll and access the subsidies during a Special Enrollment Period set to end August 15, 2021. Once that window closes, the next chance to sign up will be during the annual Open Enrollment—starting November 1 running through December 15, 2021.

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Uber, Lyft drivers strike to win labor rights for US gig workers, Auto News, ET Auto




Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.
Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

Los Angeles: Drivers for Uber and Lyft have staged strikes in cities across the United States, urging Congress to grant gig workers the right to band together and push for better wages and working conditions.

Wednesday’s protests – from California to Maryland – reveal an increasingly fractious dispute over how gig workers should be regarded by law and what rights they deserve at work.

The question is under debate in Congress as lawmakers wrangle over whether the self-employed can bargain collectively as part of a wider Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).

“We want a seat at the table,” said driver Alvaro Bolainez, part of a 50-strong protest at Los Angeles airport.

Bolainez urged his fellow drivers to turn off their apps and lay down their keys, saying his pay was consistently and unilaterally cut by the rich ride-sharing companies he serves.

“It’s like a rollercoaster – one week I can make $1,000, the next I’ll make $400 working the same number of hours,” he said.

A spokesperson for Lyft said in an emailed statement that the company is “fighting to expand benefits and protections for drivers in a way that allows them to keep their independence. This is the type of forward-looking approach our drivers want.”

Uber referred questions to the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition, a pro-industry group, which said most driver earnings were on the rise in California.

It also sent remarks from drivers who oppose the strike.

“I treat it like it’s a business and I drive smart,” said 65-year-old Jim Pyatt, a part-time driver in California. “I never make less than $35 an hour and I love the flexibility.”

But at the L.A. rally, drivers told a very different story – recalling days when earnings lagged the minimum wage, of idling roadside for hours or paying out of pocket for vehicle repairs.

Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

A Reuters calculation found the 2020 measure had saved Uber and Lyft $392 million each in costs such as payroll taxes and worker compensation.

“It created a second-class status for all app-based workers in California,” said Nicole Moore, a rally organizer who urged the Senate to pass the PRO act when it votes on a multi-trillion dollar spending package under negotiation.

The law would, among other measures, reclassify many independent contractors as employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, though not for wage laws and benefits.

Veena Dubal, an employment law professor and critic of gig company practice, said with debate fomenting over worker rights, the West Coast was a microcosm of a far bigger problem.

“Although the action is centered in California, it’s really workers over the country participating because they know California is the epicenter of the business model, but the companies are trying to export it elsewhere,” she said.

In recent months, gig firms have courted unions and state officials in an effort to cement their workers’ status as independent contractors in all U.S. states so as to cut costs.

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Under the proposal outlined in a regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the penalty would be reduced to $150,000, but Uber would pay $9 million to support a state victims’ fund and help create industry-wide safety and reporting standards.

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Gig workers rally in Fresno in support of Right to Organize Act




FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Rallies were held across California earlier this week in support of the Right to Organize Act that is currently stalled in the State Legislature.

One of the demonstrations was held in downtown Fresno at city hall Wednesday afternoon.

A nationwide strike is underway among rideshare, and delivery drivers, including DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Organizers said they’re pushing for the right to organize and form a union to gain more benefits.

Proposition 22 was passed in November of last year, which made rideshare drivers and other gig-workers independent contractors.

However, rally participants said that’s not exactly how it works.

“Independent contractors don’t get treated like second-class workers. They’re not independent contractors if they don’t have the right to negotiate the terms of their contract,” said volunteer organizer Hashid Kasama.

A spokesperson for the Protect App-based Drivers and Services Coalition said that since Prop 22 passed Uber Driver’s earnings are up in California’s two largest markets.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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Micromax Next Product, In 2B Will Be Aimed at Gig Workers




Micromax IN 2B

It seems that Micromax is gearing up to launch a new handset in India, as is evident by a teaser released by the company on Twitter, that reveals the launch date of July 30 for the same.

Going by the teaser released by Micromax, the upcoming handset will offer smooth performance, long battery life with the focus group being Gig workers. The teaser does not reveal the name of the handset, but we can expect it to be released as the Micromax IN 2B in India, as the device was spotted on Geekbench in June.

What do We Know About the Micromax In 2B,2C?

At that time, the benchmark listing had revealed the main specifications of the device ahead of the launch. This device will be succeeding the Micromax In 1B smartphone.

According to a report by The Mobile Indian earlier this week, Micromax seems to be planning to launch the Micromax In 2B in India by the end of July.

Now, the teaser of the arrival of the new handset on July 30th has further provided us with solidified proof of a new offering from the company. As mentioned earlier, the Micromax 1N 2B visited Geekbench last month. Benchmark details wise, the Micromax In 2B will come with a Unisoc T610 octa-core SoC. The device is also expected to opt for 4GB of RAM. Software-wise it should run Android 11 out of the box.

The Geekbench test revealed that the Micromax In 2B managed to score 350 points in the single-core test and 1204 points in the multicore test. To recall, the Micromax 1N 1B was launched by Micromax earlier in 2020 in November. The device opted for a 6.52-inch IPS LCD display with HD+ resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio.

Performance-wise the handset was powered by the octa-core Helio G35 SoC. Optics wise the 1N 1B used a dual-camera setup with a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary camera. The phone used a massive 5000mAh battery with 10W charging.

The report also mentions that the company could release the Micromax In 2C in India next month, with a Geekbench listing confirming the same. The listing revealed that the In 2C could ship with an Unisoc T610 processor with 4GB of RAM. The phone could run Android 11 out of the box.

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