- One in six U.S. workers said they are working a job they would otherwise leave because they don't want to lose their health benefits, according to the May 6 results of a Gallup survey. The survey included 3,870 adults who completed the questionnaire in March.
- Black workers (21%) were more likely than White workers (14%) to report health benefits were keeping them in unwanted jobs, the survey said.
- Economics emerged as a differing factor as well. Workers in households with less than a $48,000 annual income were three times more likely to stay in an unwanted job to continue health benefits, as compared with workers in households earning $120,000 or more per year, Gallup found.
Some have argued that healthcare reform measures such as "Medicare for All" would loosen the labor market, boosting economic security and giving workers more freedom. The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, wrote last year that Medicare for All would ease job transitions and boost employee experiences by providing constant healthcare.
"Medicare for All could decrease inefficient 'job lock' and boost small business creation and voluntary self-employment," EPI's Director of Research Josh Bivens wrote. "Making employment decisions based on access to [employer-sponsored insurance] rather than on other criteria — such as work–life balance, cash wages, and commuting distance — can lead to employment 'matches' that are less productive and that decrease overall worker welfare relative to job choices that are not constrained by the availability of health insurance."
Outside of lapses in coverage, U.S. workers also worry about healthcare affordability. Most Americans are satisfied with their health benefits but are concerned about cost, a 2019 Transamerica Center for Health Studies survey found. Almost a quarter of respondents said they decided against taking a prescription medicine in the last year because of its expense.
Healthcare cost is top of mind for employers, too. In 2019, the average employer premium contribution for family coverage was $14,561, up from $12,011 in 2014, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. With rising expenses, employers are searching for cost-cutting measures. Top techniques include 24-hour nurse advice lines, telemedicine and healthcare claims utilization analysis, a 2019 report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found.