Predicting how health insurance system changes would affect the U.S. labor markets is difficult, according to Congressional Budget Office analysts.

The analysts suggest in a new report that, on the surface, the following outcomes seem likely:

- Requiring employers to proide health insurance — or pay a fee if they do not — probably would lead to a small reduction in employment.

- Decreasing health insurance subsidies for higher-income taxpayers could discourage some people from working more hours.

- Increasing access to health coverage that is not related to employment could lead more people to stop working before age 65. “But it might also encourage other workers to take jobs that better match their skills, because they would not have to stay in less desirable jobs solely to maintain their health insurance,” the analysts write.

But the actual, overall effect of an health insurance system changes on labor markets is difficult to predict, the analysts warn.

“Although economic theory and experience provide some guidance as to the effect of specific provisions, large-scale changes to the health insurance system could have more extensive repercussions than have previously been observed and also may involve numerous factors that would interact–affecting labor markets in significant but potentially offsetting ways,” the analysts write.

The CBO health insurance impact report is available here.