A letter from a grad student who is looking forward to Obamacare:
I'm currently a grad student and pretty psyched about Obamacare for myself. I currently get completely free insurance through my school (or, really, the state of Texas - I'm at a public school here) as a graduate TA, but even many people who eventually secure full-time work in academia spend a year or two as adjuncts.
I have savings and can survive a year or two with the extremely low pay of adjuncting, but what I can't do is insure myself under the old system. The last time I looked into buying health insurance, which was over 10 years ago, when I was in my 20's and thinner than now, the only plan I was able to buy for any amount of money (because of my high weight) was a high-deductible plan that was explicitly non-renewable (in other words, it would only last for a year no matter what). That worked for my needs at the time, and I'm fine with high-deductible plans, but I'm not sure I could have gotten insurance the next year.
And the thing is, if/when I graduate from here, I'll be at least 40, so I am really uncomfortable with the idea of not having health insurance. I could go get a job in some industry instead of adjuncting, and then I would be insured, but it's nice to have options.
It drives me crazy when uninformed people talk about "buying private insurance" pre-Obamacare, as though that is an option for everyone. It simply isn't/wasn't.
An anecdotal data point in favor of the job lock thesis.