Workers are laying off their jobs in record numbers – part of what is now called the Great Resignation. About 4 million workers have laid off each month between July and November 2021.
Erica Leman had maintained a side hunt as a wedding photographer for 12 years. Like millions of other Americans, Leman, who worked in higher education, took the pandemic as a sign of making a career change.
“We had a pandemic, what are the chances of it happening again in the course of my life?” said Leman. “The worst that can happen is that I go back to a job. It’s not the end of the world.”
American workers who are becoming their own bosses may gain new financial freedom, but they are losing one big benefit: health insurance benefits. More than 54% of Americans had insurance through their employer by 2020, according to U.S. Census data.
One in three insured workers would consider leaving the job if health insurance was not a factor, according to Policygenius’ November 2021 Health Insurance Literacy Survey. “The great resignation could be even greater if it were not for the way our health insurance system is put together,” said Myles Ma, senior director at Policygenius.
That anxiety was certainly true for Leman. “One of the reasons I almost never considered leaving an employee position until recently was because of health insurance,” she said.
Many Americans in need of health insurance turn to the Obamacare market to find a plan, and amid the recent rise in redundancies, the Biden administration announced that enrollments reached a record high in December 2021.
But some Americans find the exchanges difficult to navigate, saying they struggled to find a suitable plan at a price they could afford.
Seventy-one percent of uninsured Americans who decided not to get coverage either from a private insurance company or through the marketplace said they did not end up buying a plan because it was too expensive, according to a 2020 survey by the Commonwealth Fund.
Leman also approached the marketplace to find a plan, but realized that none of the offers suited her needs. “There were so many options, and all of them just seem like a lot of money for not much support,” she said.
“There are significant limitations to market plan coverage that you can not easily see,” said Karen Pollitz, senior fellow in health care reform and private insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Coverage [may be] meaningfully different from what you may have been used to from your job. “
While the pandemic may have helped spur the large-scale resignation, it also led to new legislation that could make an insurance policy off the market more affordable for most Americans. But only 30% of people are aware that you can get financial aid to pay for their plans.
Watch the video above to learn if Obamacare can work for this influx of uninsured Americans and how the Great Depression could change US health coverage