The most salutory economic impact of the Affordable Care Act has been largely ignored in our long, painful and sometimes stupid debate about health care reform. As I argue in an editorial today,
Consider the person who is unhappy with his or her job, but can’t afford to lose its employer-provided insurance. Maybe he’s always wanted to start a business of his own, but he has young children at home that can’t go without insurance. Maybe she’d like to switch to part-time work, or move to another city to take a promising new job. But the new job doesn’t come with insurance, and she’d likely be denied coverage in the individual market because of her medical history.
Economists have a term for this: job lock. It applies to people whose careers are blocked simply because they cannot afford to lose the health insurance their families depend on.