Report: Newly Insured May Choose to Work Less Under Obamacare

Feb 6, 2014

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Congressional budget experts say President Obama's new health care law will likely reduce the number of people who choose to stay in the workforce. 

The Congressional Budget Office says its expects a net reduction of about 2.5 million full-time jobs by 2024 thanks to Obamacare. Not primarily because employers will be scaling back their hiring, but because workers will choose to work less -- because they can get health care outside of the workplace. That is, they won't have to stick with a job they don't like just for the benefits.

"Workers are going to have more flexibility."
Kevin Counihan

"It basically says workers are going to have more flexibility," said Kevin Counihan, the head of the state's health care exchange under Obamacare. "There will be employees, the CBO is estimating, at the lower end, typically, lower wage workforce, that may decide either to retire or take other jobs. And so, as a result, there may be fewer workers in the workforce."

Jennifer Herz is assistant counsel for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. She agreed with Counihan's reading of the CBO report, and said she hasn't heard from businesses who say they are cutting jobs in response to Obamacare. That said, the law does present its fair share of challenges for employers.

"I think businesses are still struggling with trying to make sure they're in compliance and wrapping their head around this new world. And that's really what we're hearing the most of," Herz said. "There are a lot administrative burdens on businesses so, although this report isn't talking about that, it still is a major concern out there."

And there's another major concern for Counihan, the CEO of Access Health CT. He said the CBO report is making an already complicated political debate on health care even more so.