Worry about losing health insurance may limit survivors’ earning power and opportunities for career advancement

New study looks at survivors and "job lock:" Career advancement versus work-related health insurance

Published: 01/02/2018

Jar with money labeled "Health  insurance"

“Job lock” is when an employee stays at a job in order to keep work-related health insurance. Job lock may reduce earning power and limit opportunities for advancement at work.

A team of LTFU researchers wanted to learn more about if - and how - job lock affects adult survivors of childhood cancer. They conducted a study that compared 394 full-time employed survivors and 128 LTFU Study sibling participants. The team was led by Dr. Anne Kirchhoff, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Almost 1 in 4 of the full-time employed survivors reported a history of job lock.

Additionally, they found that:

  • Female survivors were more likely to report job lock than male survivors.
  • 38% of survivors who had been denied insurance coverage in the past reported job lock currently compared with only 20% among those who had never been denied coverage.
  • Job lock was reported by 44% of survivors who said they had problems paying their medical bills compared with only 16% who did not have problems paying medical bills.

What does this mean for you? 

“Our results show that many survivors make the hard decision to remain working in a job just to keep their health insurance,” Dr. Kirchhoff says. “Unfortunately, this may limit their career opportunities, damage their potential earning power, and impact their quality of life. More research is needed to investigate how proposed changes to the US Affordable Care Act (ACA) might affect survivors’ health, employment decisions, access to insurance, and income - and how all these things influence the quality of survivorship care.”


Kirchhoff AC, Nipp R, Warner EL, et al. "Job Lock" among Long-term Survivors of Childhood Cancer: A Report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. JAMA Oncol. 2017 (Published online on Oct 19): E1-E5. [Epub ahead of print]