There is a bright side to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for people too young for Medicare. I’ve been talking to friends and family that fit into this category. With the benefit of the ACA they are rethinking their retirement plans and timing. (More)
People who are under 65 and still working at a job may have felt chained to that job because they really needed employer provided health insurance. For some it was a preexisting condition and the idea that before the ACA they could not have quit their job and bought insurance in the private market. For others it was the cost of making COBRA payments (103% of the total cost) that kept them tied to their jobs. With the passage of PPACA they are rethinking their options and accelerating some of their post retirement dreams.
These people contemplating dropping full time employment may have been counted as “job losses” by the CBO and have been fodder for the GOP argument that the ACA was “killing jobs.” In most cases the people I know will leave a job that will be filled by someone probably younger who is seeking a move up to a better position. They are dropping out of being tied to a job so that they can tie their energy to a dream.
One woman I know is a long time yoga practitioner. She has a strong, flexible body that she has acquired through years of practice and she wants to teach yoga. With the option of buying affordable health insurance through the exchanges, her retirement dreams can be moved forward. She can afford to live on less income and part-time work because of the ACA. She won’t be “dropping out” as much as “dreaming out.”
I can see her photo for one of those ads that ask if you can believe her age and that yoga might just be a fountain of youth and fitness. Good for her!
Another friend is a guy who is really into rock climbing. He has a preexisting condition that keeps him at an ‘okay job’ that pays the bills and most importantly gives him health insurance. In the climbing community he asks for old but still usable and safe harnesses and ropes for use with the underprivileged kids he teaches to climb. He is changing their lives and has a ton of passion for it. His retirement dream would be to work at a climbing gym and expand his work with the kids. He is another one who is “dreaming out” of the workforce.
Another couple I know have a side business making wooden arbors, gates and fancy fencing. If you can sketch it they can build it. If you bring in a photo, they can copy it. They have enough customers and referrals to keep them busier than they really want to be because they both have full time jobs. They need employer provided health insurance but with the ACA they think they can “dream out” and get to building stuff for a long list of waiting customers. When I asked the man if he had a power spray painter his wife answered for him. “He’s got me,” she quipped. I am sure that someone looking to move up would really want their corporate IT jobs.
I am on medicare and so very happy about that. In a burst of totally impractical “dreaming out” I left corporate America and became a campground host in the National Forest. I went uninsured for about four years because the COBRA payments were exorbitant (61 year old woman = $1400/month) and I was healthy enough to take the risk. I lucked out in staying healthy but had disaster struck it would have wiped out my entire retirement savings in one “incident.” I speak from experience that the stress of being trapped in a bad job situation even with high pay is sometimes more than a person can take. Being uninsured is also like having a big cloud overhead. I’m really glad that people who are just a bit younger than me can “dream out” without that cloud.
We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.” The reason for the reduction in the supply of labor is that the provisions of the ACA reduce the incentive to work for certain subsets of the population.
Thus, there is a critical difference between, on the one hand, people who leave a job for reasons beyond their control and, on the other hand, people who choose not to work or to work less. The wording that people use to describe those differing circumstances reflects the different reactions of the people involved. In our report, we indicated that “the estimated reduction [in employment] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply,” so we think the language of “losing a job” does not fit.
Mitch McConnell’s spokesman claimed that CBO had projected “a loss of at least two million jobs.” A spokesman for the NRCC insisted that “because of Obamacare, there will be 2 million less [sic] jobs in the economy.”
A statement from Senator Chuck Grassley claimed that the CBO had found that the law will “cause the loss of 2.5 million jobs.” Former Romney policy adviser Lanhee Chen claimed the CBO had estimated that Obamacare “will result in 2.5 million jobs lost.”
Now, a few conservatives on Twitter did seize on the report to make an argument about how the CBO report shows that the safety net act as a disincentive to work. Whether or not you agree with that argument, it at least exists within the parameters of what the CBO report actually said. The suggestion that Obamacare will cause over two million jobs to be lost does not. This is not a small distinction. It goes directly to the heart of one of the Republican arguments against the law — that it is a job killer, i.e., that its regulations strangle jobs.
I have been asking boomers if the ACA has changed their retirement plans in any way. It is a much better discussion than, “So what do you think of Obamacare?”
I am amazed at the people who are now contemplating new dreams because they are freed from the health insurance question. As the future yoga instructor and I were talking I said, “You realize that the Republicans will count you as a job loss to discredit Obamacare, don’t you?”
Her response was perfect. She said, “This is freedom, real freedom!”