Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges became available online in 2014, more unmarried women have pursued full-time self-employment positions, according to recent findings by visiting professor of economics Meg Blume-Kohout.

Her research focused on differences in the effects of the ACA on self-employment among married and single women and men in the labor force between the ages of 27 and 64. She utilized data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Blume-Kohout presented her findings to students and staff members at a Brown Bag luncheon in the Center for Women’s Studies on Feb. 27.

Her newest study reflects two economic and political trends: start-up businesses are an increasingly vital part of our economy’s growth, and access to health care is an important aspect of women’s well-being.

“The ACA guarantees coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and requires insurers to cover pregnancy, childbirth, mental health, and preventive care services, all of which women are more likely to use,” she explains. “It also provides subsidies for lower-income individuals and families, making non–employer-based health insurance more available and affordable for entrepreneurs.” Blume-Kohout’s latest work serves as the “closing loop, pulling together health policy interests from [her] college days with [her] more recent research,” she says.

As an undergraduate at Williams College, Blume-Kohout was inspired to study health care policy by a national health care reform task force led by Hillary Clinton. Ever since, she has pursued public policy research through a variety of channels. In 2009 at RAND, a large nonprofit think tank, she studied how Medicare Part D impacted pharmaceutical companies’ clinical trials for medications targeted toward seniors. In a more recent 2014 report for the U.S. Small Business Administration, she examined the gender gap in STEM-based entrepreneurship.

At the conclusion of the campus lecture, Blume-Kohout stated her hopes for the implications of her work: to “preserve universal access to health insurance, so that’s no longer a barrier for women who want to become entrepreneurs.”

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