Helen Levy is an adjunct associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan's Ford School.
There's been a lot of concern about how employers should respond to the Affordable Care Act. In particular, people have been worried that employers are going to drop health insurance coverage. Most of the research on this question suggests that's not really a major cause for concern.
At the large employers where the business pays for offering health insurance, it's as strong as ever. Now we may see some workers, part-time workers for example, we may see less coverage from employers for them. And they will be going to the exchanges, but in many cases that is going to be a better deal for them because they can get access to a tax credit in the exchange that they wouldn't have been able to access if they continued to have employer-sponsored coverage.
So we know that small firms have always been at a bit of a competitive disadvantage compared to large firms in terms of benefits that they can offer to attract workers, and now that's going to be less of an issue. The fact that workers will now have the option of getting coverage from someone other than an employer, means that workers, if they want, can go to work for, for example, a small firm that may not be offering benefits.
So that if I want to go work for a startup and I have been held back by the fact that I need to keep my employer-sponsored coverage, that's not a concern anymore and you would expect that to improve the quality of the worker job matches that are seen in the labor market and that is good for everyone.
Five years from now we are going have a functioning health insurance exchange system that provides a place for people to get health insurance coverage when, for whatever reason, they don't have it available from an employer. I think those systems are going to work well. I think it is going to be a valuable option for people and I think we are going to say, "I can't believe it was ever not this way."