I’ve read a lot of commentary about the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the Supreme Court decision, but I haven’t seen much about what might be one of its best consequences – if the legislation survives: job creation.
Eugene Robinson touches on it in his column that appears Friday in the print edition. He writes:
Tying health insurance to the workplace also distorts the labor market and discourages entrepreneurship by forcing some employees to stay where they are – even in dead-end jobs – rather than give up health insurance. For healthy individuals, it is crushingly expensive to buy insurance on the free market. For those with pre-existing medical conditions, it is essentially impossible – but not for long, thanks to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.
I’d go a little further and say that if the act goes into full effect, and people can buy affordable individual health insurance policies, it will open up a lot of jobs. Older workers who are putting off early retirement because they can’t afford health insurance until Medicare kicks in would be more inclined to leave – creating room for younger workers to be hired or promoted. Younger workers who have stayed put in jobs they don’t particularly like instead of leaving to open their own businesses might be tempted to strike out if they can get health insurance not tied to their employer – creating even more job churn, a good thing for the economy.
So much will depend on the exchanges the states set up and whether they offer health insurance rates that everyday folks can afford.