The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported this week that the Affordable Care Act discourages work among those receiving subsidies to pay their health insurance premiums.
The CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the number of hours worked by 1.5 to 2 percent from 2017 to 2024. That represents “a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”
Conservative politicians are enjoying another problem with Obamacare, while liberals are straining to explain how this is really a good thing. (Seriously, they are.)
The CBO explains it quite simply. “Subsidies decline with rising income (and increase as income falls), thus making work less attractive. As a result, some people will choose not to work or will work for less.”
Just as extending unemployment benefits discourages people from taking a job, prorating health insurance premium subsides to income will discourage some people from trying to move up the economic ladder.
The CBO says some people will choose to work less, but will still be able to maintain the same standard of living. That, says CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, is a “disincentive for people to work.”
The conclusions make economic sense, of course, but that doesn’t stop the left from arguing, presumably with a straight face, the alleged positive side of the findings.
The New York Times calls the data “liberating.” “Many workers who felt obliged to stay in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours than they otherwise would have,” the Times opined.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the CBO report showed that thanks to Obamacare, workers would be “empowered” to leave their jobs.
If this is a good thing, let’s all punch out early and celebrate the emancipation.
It’s not of course, and anyone who has worked hard to improve their station in life and their family’s opportunities for success knows it.
The Times, Carney and the rest have it backward. It is work that’s liberating and empowering, not government dependency. America was forged on the principle of equal opportunity to pursue one’s aspirations. A doctrine of the feminist movement was breaking down barriers in the workplace so women could have their own economic success without depending on a man.
Working hard does not guarantee success, but it does improve your chances. What message does it send to Americans who do the math and figure out ways to keep their income down (or perhaps off the books) so they can get the highest possible subsidy for their health insurance?
Creating legislation that discourages work is counter to the American way, along with being lousy economics.