The View From Your Obamacare: Job Freedom

The popular thread continues:

You wrote, “When you are a long-term HIV survivor, that kind of health security and independence is, well, priceless.” Take out “long-term HIV” and replace it with “person with diabetes” or “person with a seizure disorder” or “person with a heart condition” and all of us feel that same security and independence and relief that you describe. I’ve had well-controlled diabetes for almost 30 years, which includes President Obama Visits Boston To Talk About Health Caremy entire working life. And for my entire life, I’ve known that I had to get and keep a job that offered a group insurance plan (or be married to someone who had that) in order to take care of myself and be financially stable (i.e., in the middle-class).

So that’s what I’ve done; I worked when my ex-husband was in graduate school (his school coverage didn’t cover pre-existing conditions); I put off having children until he had a job with group insurance; I worked at in the most toxic law firm environment I can imagine for 6 1/2 years because I was divorced and had to provide my own coverage; I finally left when I was hired by the federal government (admittedly, a lot of benefits came with that move, not just good health coverage).

But in the last few months, another sense of freedom has crept up on me and I realize that NEVER AGAIN will I feel trapped by my job as I have for my entire working life.

If I decide to leave the law, I can. If I want to piece together several part-time jobs that that allow me to use my other skills and would provide me with the minimum income, I can do it. It’s all up to me. I have no more excuses. It almost feels like personal responsibility and freedom and adult behavior all wrapped up together. But that doesn’t make sense, because then the Republicans would be all for it, right? I am so thrilled that Obamacare exists and I use the name proudly whenever I can. Another meep-meep for the ages!

Another also quotes me:

[The ACA’s] assurance of a stable insurance market that does not screen out someone with a pre-existing condition made me far more comfortable starting my own business. It gave me a baseline of security that simply didn’t exist before. It helped make entrepreneurialism possible.

Amen. I live in Silicon Valley.

As dynamic as this place is, I can’t tell you how many former colleagues have stayed in jobs just for the benefits. I really don’t understand why employers don’t want to get out of the healthcare business. It’s not a core competency and it’s nothing but a headache. This American Life had a story about how medical benefits became a way to lure workers during the WWI’s government-mandated frozen wages.

I’m currently in a struggling startup with no benefits. I have them through a partner, so I’m one of the lucky ones. I wonder how much innovation is being locked up by employer-based healthcare.

Another has part-time job freedom:

I am a 27-year-old freelance photographer and writer who works in the skateboard industry. I’m also a semi-professional downhill skater. It’s pretty much my dream job, and I wouldn’t have been able to chase it down without Obamacare. The ability to stay on my parents’ insurance until I was 26 gave me the freedom to move across the country and participate in a risky physical activity without fear of financial ruin. Later, when I aged out of my parents’ insurance, the lower premiums made it possible to afford insurance, without which I could not skate. (Thankfully, my sponsors pay for it.)

If the ACA hadn’t passed, I would be working a boring, stable office job instead of traveling the world pursuing my creative passion. Obama disappointed me on civil liberties and accountability for torture, but the Affordable Care Act has made a real and important difference in my life.

And this reader has freedom from jobs altogether:

I got health insurance through Covered CA. I’m 64 and Obamacare allowed me to retire a year earlier. Before Obamacare I would have been uninsurable and have to keep working to get employer-based coverage. I worked as an RN for 38 years and was wearing out fast. It’s the best thing that could have happened.

(Photo by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)