Outdoors Magazine

Great News: 2 Million People Liberated by the ACA

By Everywhereonce @BWandering

We understand that our point of view on many things is, shall we say, somewhat out of the mainstream. And we understand that this is particularly true when it comes to issues of life / work balance. But that understanding didn’t stop us from being a bit bemused to read all the recent handwringing and teeth gnashing over some unabashedly good news.

“Health Care Law Projected to Cut Labor Force,” cried the New York Times

“CBO: Obamacare Is A Tax On Work, May Cut Full-Time Workforce By 2.5 Million,” yells Forbes

That certainly sounds bad. So why are we so happy?

We’re happy because we are examples of the poor souls over which Forbes is so bereft. We’re examples of people who got individual health insurance policies without needing to bind ourselves to some giant corporation. That freed us to leave the traditional labor force and start working for ourselves, or not working depending on our particular needs, circumstances, time of day, location or mood. Four years later, we couldn’t be more pleased.

Maybe a better question to ask is why the popular media is so sad? 

If you actually read the report that these news organizations cite, you’ll notice something peculiar. The estimated decline in work hours they’re complaining about is voluntary.

The estimated reduction [in labor] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor.” CBO pg 117

This isn’t a story about companies cutting jobs or reducing hours for people who want them. It’s about employees quitting jobs and choosing to work less. The CBO estimates upwards of 2.5 million people will do that in the coming years because of the Affordable Care Act.

Before the ACA many people were trapped in jobs they didn’t want because it was the only way they could get health insurance. We sympathize strongly with their plight because for a while we feared we’d share that fate. Now that they can buy individual health insurance polices regardless of their medical history people are leaving those old bad jobs. 

They’re moving on to early retirement, or to start new businesses, pursue other passions, travel the world, raise their children or, who knows, maybe dabble in all of the above. It’s great news, and a feature of the law we wrote favorably about back in 2012. We’re delighted to see it finally come to fruition even if the media can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea that, for some people, being better off actually means working less. 

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