Sarah Woodbury writes books and sells them online. A big part of her family income comes from the sales of those books; in fact, her family can live off of her income alone. Yet, because of the rising costs of health care, her husband is forced to work a full-time job to ensure they keep their coverage.
Sarah is indicative of a group of authors who have been meaning to make the jump to full-time, but can't do it because of fear of losing their health care coverage.
"We can live on my income now, but health insurance?" said Mrs. Woodbury. "Yeah -- the lack of it if he quits his job is one of the two things keeping my husband at his job. We have four kids -- going without health insurance isn't an option."
The Supreme Court ruling that the Obama health care legislation is in fact constitutional has created quite a stir with authors all around the country. Many now feel like they can finally make their writing into a full-time career now that they can't lose their health coverage.
Kate Delaney, author of 5:00 Breakout, says, "The biggest thing keeping me at my day job is healthcare. Depending on the cost of premiums after the Act goes into full effect, I will definitely be examining the options."
An anonymous message board poster only known as "Gutman" had this to say:
I am close to retirement (I'm 58.) I'm only working the day job full time because of health insurance. I can honestly say that if the bill survives the election cycle, and all its parts kick in by 2014, going to half time and buying health insurance through the pool becomes a real possibility for me, and makes it possible to transition to writing full time in retirement by writing half time until I'm 65.
But others aren't so sure.
Victoria J says it's a wait and see decision. "I have no plans to. I would like to see how things look after 2014 before I ever made such a decision."
Kent Kelly, author of the book From the Fire, agrees. "No, I don't trust election volatility over the term of my existence and I have a child to think about. I'd like to, but this isn't safe ground yet in my opinion. But I think it's a major step in that direction."
Ian Fraser, author of The Depths of Deception, is on board with the plan:
I write full time already, and am grateful that there's legislation coming to ensure that poor folks can get the medical treatment they need, and not be at the mercy of profiteering corporations who care nothing for human health. Ditto for those like me, eking out a marginal living from writing. One medical misstep can spell economic disaster. This bill helps individuals like me who're 'just getting by.' Its a helping hand -- same as is being done, I think, in Germany and France and the UK.
So, Why Is This Good For Authors?
Cameron Haley, author of Mob Rules, offers a more detailed explanation of the the law and how it could effect authors:
If your income is at or below 133% of the poverty level, you'll be covered by Medicaid. At higher income levels, you'll be eligible for tax credits. For example, if you are 30 years old and earn $24,000 from your writing, your estimated annual premiums would be $3,440 and you'd receive a tax credit of $1,856 to help pay for it. In addition, you'll be able to purchase a policy on the exchange and you cannot be denied coverage (or dropped) based on pre-existing conditions.
Here's a calculator:
I think it's great for the self-employed, including writers. I'm fortunate enough to be well compensated in my career and full-time writing isn't in my plans, but it's nice not to have your options dictated by a jacked-up health insurance market.
The jury is still out. If you're a writer, what will you do?