Obamacare Might Have Solved 'Job Lock' for 40% of Workers

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —¬†Even for older American, the biggest health care spenders in the nation, health care costs amount to only 14% of all households that use Medicare, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For families with two or more children, health care costs can eat up to 20% of the household budget, but that still leaves 80% in household obligations such as housing, food, taxes and transportation.

So why would you leave a job if you got better health care coverage?

Sure, you may cut your household health care bill by a few percentage points and get moderately better care, but you still have to pay the rent and fill the fridge, let along pay for college costs and keep the lights on every month.

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But those are all surmountable issues to a large segment of the population, according to Securian Financial Group.

The firm issued a survey this year showing 40% of employed Americans (using a survey base of 767 respondents) "would leave their jobs if they could buy health insurance on the open market that is comparable to the out-of-pocket cost and coverage they currently have through their employers."

When you're skittish about leaving a job because you would lose health insurance, that's called "job lock." Now many Americans see an opportunity with the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act to leave a job, knowing their health care needs are covered.

That doesn't mean so many workers want to quit working altogether. Many just want a fresh start and a chance to do something different without losing health care coverage.

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"Fifty-six percent of respondents say they have considered leaving their jobs to do something more personal or meaningful but didn't because they need the health insurance they currently purchase in the work place," says Michelle Hall, a market research manager at Securian. "Of that group, 43% say they would start their own businesses."

Another 16% who have considered quitting say they would work in a field they prefer where jobs typically provide little or no health insurance, Hall adds.

Securian says that 43% of employees in its survey say they have turned down a job offer over health care provisions bearing high costs but lousy coverage. So while it doesn't make much financial sense to quit a job without having one to replace it just because of heath care issues, that's where a large portion of the U.S. workforce is at right now.

— By Brian O'Connell

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