Over the weekend I had the radio on in the car while running errands and heard a woman being interviewed about how the Affordable Care Act has impacted her life. Positively. But her story left me wondering if the changes are in line with what the legislation is in fact designed to do, or if it's the opposite; an unintended consequence.
This woman had been working as a technical writer for some years (for a company she did not identify) as a full-time, W-2 employee.
She said she didn't particularly enjoy the work, and found it to be quite stressful. She had also struggled with some medical issues, perhaps at least indirectly related to the stress, but didn't know for sure.
The thing that kept her working for this employer was generous health benefits.
Anyway, the thing that kept her working for this employer was generous health benefits, which came into play of course with her health problems.
She detailed how she had wanted to quit and instead become a freelance writer. But when she explored COBRA benefits and other forms of self-insurance, they were prohibitively expensive.
So along comes the Affordable Care Act and she sees an opportunity. She voluntarily leaves her full-time job and takes up work as a part-time freelancer.
She says she now feels less stressed, healthier and happier. I can appreciate those things, I really can.
Because her income is now considerably lower than it was, she qualifies to receive Affordable Care Act premium subsidies.
But here's the kicker. Because her income is now considerably lower than it was, she qualifies to receive Affordable Care Act premium subsidies in the form of an advanced tax credit, with the subsidy applied directly to the cost of her insurance. Her out-of-pocket costs for things like co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles are also lower.
In case you didn't connect those dots, American taxpayers are subsidizing this woman's move from a steadily employed full-time member of the workforce, to one who is a less stressed member of the gig economy. She now pays less into the system and is receiving more from it.
Perhaps this woman is who White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had in mind when he said under the Affordable Care Act Americans will no longer be trapped in jobs just to get health care coverage and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.