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Will PPACA Drive Earlier Retirement?

My dad worked in a very stressful management job, and while it paid well, it didn’t provide him the satisfaction he was looking for.  When he was 55, he had a heart attack.  He survived, but the scare caused him to re-evaluate his priorities, and he decided to follow his dream of owning his own small business.  In addition to researching business ideas and locations, he was also researching the options available to him for health insurance.  What he found, though, was that his heart attack was a pre-existing condition and most health coverage wasn’t available to him, and what was available was unaffordable.  Luckily, my mom was still working (in HR believe it or not!) and was able to cover him under her employer’s health plan.  My dad was able to leave his stressful management job, and open the store of his dreams (or nightmares depending on the day!).

What if my mom wouldn’t have had health coverage available, though?  What if his employment and lifestyle options were limited because of a pre-existing condition and availability and affordability of health coverage?  That is the world that currently exists until January 1, 2014.  On January 1, 2014, the idea of pre-existing conditions in denying health coverage or premium rating disappears.  Along with it, state Marketplaces (or Exchanges) open to offer individuals (and soon small businesses) health insurance options available for purchase (along with possible subsidy/tax credits).

My premise is not meant to be an advertisement for Health Care Reform.  It is to pose the question; will “older” employees take advantage of the newfound flexibility and availability of affordable health coverage to follow their dreams?  Was the availability of health coverage at their employer the primary reason they have maintained employment?  Will we see an exodus of “older” employees looking to become cake decorators, shade tree mechanics, volunteers, or small business owners?  As an employer, examine your talent acquisition and talent management strategy to determine what your strategy is to keep and/or attract the employees you need to achieve your organization’s desired outcomes – whether that is the older workers leaving or the new employees to replace them.

Posted on July 09, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

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