The authors call this phenomenon "employment lock," the idea that people must keep working so they can keep their health insurance. They believe it happens because the individual market for health insurance is flawedif you're a single person on your own, health insurance can be really expensive and you're worried about being denied coverage or an insurer dropping you due to health reasons. So you opt to find a job instead.
"The fact that people are working solely to get health insurance signals a failure of the private health insurance market," explains Dr. Matthew J. Notowidigdo, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a study co-author. "That's one of the reasons why the Affordable Care Act was created."
With Medicaid rapidly expanding under the Affordable Care Act, the researchers foresee that such a progression could happen in reverse: the option of public health insurance may lead some Americans to retire or to leave their jobs. This doesn't make the Affordable Care Act a "job killer," as some have suggested; it just provides an alternative way to procure health insurance that doesn't require people to work for the "perk."
"When the Affordable Care Act is enacted, it's possible that hundreds of thousands of people may choose to leave the labor force or retire earlier than they otherwise would have because they now have access to health insurance outside of their jobs," explains Craig Garthwaite, PhD, assistant professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and a study co-author. "It's giving people important options that otherwise wouldn't exist without the ACA."
The full impact of the ACA on the jobs picture will only be apparent after it is put in place. And results will vary geographically as some states are choosing to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion.
|Contact: Timothy S. Paul|
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health