Patt Morrison for July 2, 2012

Affordable Care Act hopes to undo ‘job lock’

Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

Kris Connor/Getty Images

Susan Clark (L) argues with a another protester about the Affordable Healthcare Act outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Court found the law to be constitutional and did not strike down any part of it.

Hate your job but feel like you’re stuck because you want to keep your health insurance? The Affordable Care Act might come to your rescue.

If you or a dependent on your health plan has a pre-existing medical condition, and you’re worried you’ll lose your coverage if you leave, the health care overhaul hopes to liberate people from their employer-based health insurance shackles in order to change jobs.

According to HealthCare.gov, chronically ill workers are 40-percent less likely to leave their job if they get insurance through their employer, compared to those that get insurance independently. The new health-care act could also assist people who hope to start their own business, retire early or work fewer hours, but weren’t willing to previously to maintain their health benefits.

There is still a lot of confusion around the costs and benefits of the Affordable Care Act, but one thing is clear, for those looking seeking a career change, ACA may free them up to make a gamble.

Author and career consultant, Andrea Kay, said many clients express apprehension when considering a career change because they feel like they’re putting their security on the line.

But now that insurance providers cannot deny health coverage based on a pre-existing condition, all Kay needs to tell her once worry-laden clients is: “What’s stopping you from going after your dream?”

A caller from Inglewood, Ronny, said he sees ACA as a form of liberation because workers will no longer be tied to a company solely for insurance.

Kay agrees, adding that the independence found could be beneficial and lead to people starting their own businesses and startups.

“I think it has the potential to reignite the entrepreneurial spirit, absolutely,” she said. “I think it also encourages younger people, 26 or younger who can stay on their parents plan now...to be entrepreneurs because they can do so with a lot less risk as well.”

But it’s more than entrepreneurship — for people like our caller Megan from Signal Hill — it’s about well-earned career advancement.

Megan, a school district employee, said she has not been able to move-up in her organization because it would require she leave her union and, consequently, lose her health insurance. Megan has a pre-existing condition and under the health insurance she’d be offered with her new position, she would not be covered. She’s experiencing job lock of a different breed.

“I have a pre-existing condition that doesn’t affect my ability to work,” Megan said. “I have the education, my supervisors want to put me in the position, but I can’t take it … I can’t even move within the same organization.”

But with ACA’s provisions, people like Megan will not be denied health coverage based on their pre-existing conditions and will be able to make the career changes they’ve been working towards -- without wagering their health coverage.


NOTE: This is an informal and unscientific survey meant to gauge our listener's opinions on an issue.

Guest:

Andrea Kay, career consultant, syndicated columnist and author of "Work's a Bitch and Then You Make it Work" and her most recent book is “Life’s a Bitch Then You Change Careers” (publisher is Stewart, Tabori and Chang)

Judith Feder, institute fellow in health care policy at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social policy think tank; she’s also a professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University


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