newspaper rollThe University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, with contributions from Columbia University and Northwestern University, has released new research indicating that up to 900,000 U.S. workers may leave their jobs once insurance exchanges open up. Workers most prone to such a move are those who are in the workforce primarily as a means of obtaining healthcare coverage. This group of workers may leave the workforce either temporarily or permanently.

The typical worker identified as likely to leave their job are single adults without children. Based on a test case in Tennessee where 170,000 citizens lost Medicaid health coverage, thanks to budget cuts and immediately started looking for jobs, the report determined that the same thing will happen once insurance exchanges open.

“This shows that there are many people out there who look for work simply because they need health insurance. For them, the perk matters more than the paycheck,” said Tal Gross, co-author of the paper and assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School at Columbia.

Those people working for the primary purpose of obtaining affordable health care will quit and receive coverage through an exchange, highlighting what the report calls one of the biggest flaws of the insurance industry.

“The fact that people are working solely to get health insurance signals a failure of the private health insurance market (to make coverage affordable),” said Matthew J. Notowidigdo, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Economics at the Booth School and a study co-author. “That’s one of the reasons why the Affordable Care Act was created.”


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