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ACA Repeal Could Mean a 9-5 Gig for this Chicago Freelancer

Karin McKie’s extensive resume reads writer, actor, publicist, educator and arts administrator—a true renaissance woman. But one of her proudest titles is small business owner. Karin’s business, Tree Falls Productions, based in Chicago, has been open since the early 1990s and provides a variety of services related to Karin’s creative expertise, primarily for non-profit art organizations and theatres. However, despite her success in providing support to her local arts community, Karin likely would have been forced to declare bankruptcy and close her business years ago if not for the Affordable Care Act.

Like many freelancers and solo-entrepreneurs, Karin was unable to find consistent and reliable health coverage pre-ACA. Karin was working in California when the law was passed and was able to gain coverage from her employer at the time. When she decided to leave her position and move back to Chicago, losing her healthcare was one thing she didn’t have to worry about. Karin was able to find an independent plan that met her needs thanks to the health marketplaces created under the ACA.

“Healthcare.gov was easy to use, with clear, one-stop shopping. Before the ACA, finding and comparing plans was difficult, but with the new program I’ve been able to get affordable coverage through both the California and Illinois marketplaces.”

The coverage that she gained under the healthcare law has been crucial to maintaining her health and her creative pursuits. On Memorial Day 2015, Karin suffered an unexpected allergic reaction, causing life-threatening anaphylactic shock, and experienced a recurring episode a month later. These incidences, combined with a recent spinal surgery, resulted in thousands in medical costs that would have caused a huge financial strain. Without her affordable health insurance, Karin says she likely would not have been able to cover her medical costs and would likely have been forced to declare bankruptcy.

Additionally, Karin’s concerned that repealing the Affordable Care Act will cause her job as a freelancer and artist to become virtually non-existent. She worries that “creative types” like her will have to set aside their dreams to find more traditional employment because they can no longer afford independent coverage.

She implores Congress to try to fix Affordable Care Act instead of a blanket repeal: “Of course the law is not perfect, but it doesn’t make sense to dismantle a program that’s helping millions of people like me. Instead of creating chaos, lawmakers need to come together and strengthen the law.”

Having received many accolades for her work as a storyteller and human rights advocate, Karin vows to use her voice on behalf of other artists and ambitious entrepreneurs who benefit from the ACA.

“As performers say to each other before every show, ‘I’ve got your back.’” 

We want to hear how the Affordable Care Act has impacted small businesses and entrepreneurs so we can make the small business voice heard on this issue and others. Share your story with us in our Healthcare Story Bank

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