To summarize: the CBO indicated fewer people will work full-time due to the healthcare changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act. Without context, this confirmed the “Obamacare is a job-killer” thesis, which posits that higher costs in compensating employees will force employers to reduce employment (despite record-high profits). Actually, the CBO predicts that this reduction in full-time jobs is, in large part, a result of people being freed from “job-lock.” That is, the affordable and effective health coverage, now available through the health exchanges, makes it feasible to retire sooner, work part-time to pursue other projects, and/or leave an employer to start a new business.
This hit home for us here at Intrical. There were many reasons we wanted to start this company, and several risk factors to overcome. Thanks to the ACA, though, healthcare was not one of those risks. Through DC Health Link, we were able to purchase the best health insurance we’ve ever had, and for less than we paid under previous employer-sponsored plans. Did the website work perfectly? Not quite, but it was functional enough and got better every time we checked on it.
Healthcare is an important and unique element of an employee’s compensation package. Salary can accumulate as a cushion of savings and banks provide many private retirement account options, but post-termination healthcare continuation is time-limited and prohibitively expensive. Pre-ACA, self-acquired insurance was expensive and/or ineffective, and failing to produce evidence of continuous coverage could have devastating results. All of this complicated the socioeconomic factors involved in a family’s “at-will” employment decisions. These choices are now simpler, making the free market freer.
Opponents of the healthcare bill consider it a grievous intrusion on individual freedom and our economic prosperity. However, the ability to purchase affordable healthcare apart from an employer is actually a huge advancement in freedom for workers seeking to take personal responsibility for both their careers and their healthcare, thus creating new opportunities to excel and achieve beyond current (personal and market) circumstances.
The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, and there’s a constructive debate to be had on how to improve our national healthcare circumstances in later legislation. The law’s history also highlights entirely resolvable issues surrounding our legislative andservice acquisition processes. But stalwart opposition to the law and ignorance of its benefits are not helpful, and run in opposition to fundamental American values of freedom and opportunity.