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Our Opinion: The health care incentive to quit working

Our Opinion: The health care incentive to quit working

March 26th, 2014 in News

Will indolence and irresponsibility be among the side effects of the Affordable Care Act?

Supporters and detractors of President Obama's federal health care law continue to debate its potential virtues and vices - even as enrollment continues.

A recent focus of that debate is a provision, called the "I-Quit" option, that weakens the traditional link between employment and health care.

The option has raised a question, much speculation, but no definitive answer.

The question is: Will the "I-Quit' option create healthy opportunities for individuals to quit their jobs and pursue their passions, or will it devolve into social sloth by a self-made jobless class joining the clamor for welfare benefits?

Traditionally, affordable health insurance is among the benefits of employment.

A goal of the federal health care law is to sever the employment-health insurance connection and make affordable health insurance available to everyone.

An Associated Press story published in Sunday's News Tribune reported: "Federal experts believe the new insurance option will be a powerful temptation for a lot of job-weary workers ready to bail out. Last month, congressional budget analysts estimated that within 10 years, the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers could be working less because of the expanded coverage."

The story quotes a self-published novelist and fledgling screenwriter among people attracted by the option to quit their full-time jobs in nursing and information technology.

Who wouldn't be lured by the freedom to quit work and pursue a dream - to paint, dance, act, whatever?

If people can afford to leave their full-time jobs and pursue their passions, good for them. But what about people who find they cannot afford such a lifestyle?

If the anticipated 2.5 million people leave their jobs during the next decade, how will that influence employment, productivity and other economic factors? Will the void be filled by available, skilled job-seekers?

Finally, will the historical, cultural progression of education to occupation be forever changed? Will careers and professions, and the necessary education and training, be an attraction or an aggravation?

Workers may ponder what the "I-Quit" option means to them; society must contemplate what it will mean for the work ethic on which this country was built.