Is it possible that the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, could mean an uptick in earlier Baby Boomer retirements? The anecdotal evidence among my sixty-plus friends says “yes.”
Two of my friends have retired within the past few months. They are both in their sixties, but not yet 65. Neither is yet eligible for Medicare. Friend #1 held a job which was eliminated. She could either take the job of another person with less seniority, or accept a retirement package. When she checked into the option to use COBRA for health coverage, she found that the cost was prohibitively high. However, after looking into the Affordable Care Act, she found a much less expensive policy that she felt she could afford. She retired in January, and no younger worker was bumped out of a job.
Friend #2 continued to work a very physically taxing job in order to maintain health insurance. She went on her state health exchange only to find that the cost of a plan was extremely high. However, she did not go far enough into the site to see if she could qualify for a subsidy. She later found that she could, and it made a huge difference in the cost of health insurance. She submitted her resignation within a few weeks and planned her retirement. Her job opened up and was filled almost immediately.
I began to wonder if this could be an unforeseen benefit of Obamacare—-as Boomers retire, some of their jobs open up to younger job seekers. I imagine that my friends are not the only sixty-somethings who could not retire until it was possible to acquire adequate and affordable health coverage. Even though Social Security may be taken at age 62, Medicare benefits cannot be taken by retirees until age 65.
It will take time to see what kind of changes the Affordable Care Act has on our economy at large. I am hopeful, however, that if it helps Baby Boomers to retire a few years early, it will also be a boon to younger citizens desperately seeking employment.