One of the worst aspects of the current US health insurance system is that it is employer-based, which means that people can get trapped into jobs just in order to get health insurance, a phenomenon that has been given the name of ‘job lock’. So any improvements in the system that would enable people to get affordable health care outside of employment was bound to result in people deciding to leave their jobs voluntarily, either to stay at home to look after children or others who need them, to start their own businesses, to freelance, and so on.
The Affordable Care Act, though far from freeing people completely from the tyranny of an employer-based system the way a single-payer system would, did allow for greater flexibility. So the Congressional Budget Office report that suggested that over two million people might choose to leave the workforce as a result of the ACA should hardly have come as a surprise. Advocates of health care reform (like me) actually pointed to such an option as one of the beneficial outcomes. And yet, we saw the usual suspects seize on the report to claim that the ACA will cause the loss of over two million jobs when in fact the jobs will still be there and will likely be taken by other people.
One has to again go to comedy shows to set the record straight.
Stephen Colbert had on Paul Krugman to discuss the same issue.
(These clips aired on February 6, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)