Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Is job lock coming back?

If the Republicans succeed in gutting the protections of Obamacare, here we go again.

Job lock -- the condition of being stuck in an ill-fitting or simply miserable job in order to have health insurance coverage -- will be back for people under 65 who can't be sure they can get good insurance, or any insurance, if they leave their current employer.

This aspect of the US healthcare non-system has always seemed particularly pernicious to me, perhaps because I worked many years in tiny businesses or as an independent contractor, where any insurance I might find was what I could get in the individual market. It's a peculiar historical accident that access to insurance in this country is tied to working for large employers; this quirk seems to have been a perk that employers could use to attract workers during World War II when wages were legally capped and labor was in short supply. And somehow we're still stuck with it.

Obamacare ended the linkage between access to insurance and particular jobs. Insurance may not have become completely affordable, but greater options and regulations on gross profiteering by insurers increased the chance that people could cut loose from unhappy jobs to try something else or to take early retirement.

It's abundantly clear that Republicans don't care about security and free choice for workers -- only about tax cuts for their rich sponsors.

The video is a verbatim recitation by health economist Aaron Carroll of an New York Times Upshot column by Austin Frakt.

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