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Affordable Care Act could cause people to leave their jobs
Date:7/15/2013

As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, between 500,000 and 900,000 Americans may choose to stop working. That possibility is predicted in a new analysis of an analogous situation in reverse: the abrupt end of Tennessee's Medicaid expansion in 2005. That year, Tennessee dropped 170,000 of its citizens from Medicaid. It was the largest Medicaid disenrollment in the history of the program.

Economists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have released a full analysis online as a working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In 1994, Tennessee expanded its Medicaid public health insurance program, called TennCare, to provide for uninsured and uninsurable adults regardless of age, income or family status. As a result, Tennessee's Medicaid program became one of the most generous in the country. But nine years later, largely due to budgetary constraints the program was ended in 2005. Approximately 170,000 residents lost coverage.

Those who lost coverage were disproportionately single, childless adults with incomes slightly higher than the federal poverty line. That population is very similar to uninsured Americans who are likely to gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Perk Over Paycheck

In an analysis of employment records in Tennessee, the researchers determined that close to half of those who lost TennCare coverage in 2005 went on to find insurance through an employer. Moreover, the researchers found that as soon as TennCare coverage ended, there was a spike in Google searches for "job openings" in the state of Tennessee.

"This shows that there are many people out there who look for work simply because they need health insurance. For them, the perk matters more than the paycheck," says Tal Gross, PhD, co-author of the paper and assist
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Contact: Timothy S. Paul
tp2111@columbia.edu
212-305-2676
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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