40% would quit for comparable insurance

Sixteen percent who have considered quitting say they would work in a field they prefer where jobs typically provide little or no health insurance. Sixteen percent who have considered quitting say they would work in a field they prefer where jobs typically provide little or no health insurance.

Speculation about "job-locked" employees who stay on the job only for insurance benefits has been mostly anecdotal — until now.

Four in 10 employees would leave their jobs if they could purchase health insurance on the open market that is comparable to their existing coverage and out-of-pocket expenses, according to a survey by the Securian Financial Group. The company spoke with 767 employed Americans in April. Ninety-four percent of respondents worked full time, and the others worked part time.

The results align with a Congressional Budget Office estimate that, because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employees may “choose to supply less labor” — equal to two million jobs — between 2017 and 2024.

Most respondents (91 percent) said they like the work they do in their current jobs, and 83 percent are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their existing health insurance. Even so, many of them would consider trying something different.

“More than half (56 percent) say they have considered leaving their jobs to do something more personal or meaningful but didn’t because they need the health insurance they currently purchase in the workplace,” said Michelle Hall, manager of market research for Securian. “Of that group, more than two-fifths (43 percent) say they would start their own businesses.”

Another 16 percent who have considered quitting say they would work in a field they prefer where jobs typically provide little or no health insurance, she added.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed said they have turned down job offers because the health insurance benefits didn’t meet their needs. Nearly one-half of married respondents (46 percent) refused job offers because of unacceptable health insurance coverage, compared to about one-third (34 percent) of single people.

However, there likely is a gap between daydreaming about starting a business and actually taking the risk of doing so. The survey summary cites several key indicators for human resources professionals to monitor moving forward:

  • How will employers modify their benefit packages, and how will that affect workers’ decisions to quit or stay on the job?
  • Where will the average price points for health insurance for various households emerge on the cost scale under PPACA?
  • Will workers pursue their dreams of self-employment, creating new jobs to offset some of the estimated two-million full-time employees who may leave the work force by 2024?
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