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Health reform set out to ensure that nearly every American has coverage, in part by requiring that virtually all large employers offer the benefit or pay a fine -- and creating insurance exchanges for workers who miss out.

The Obama administration has delayed the employer half of that equation more than once. But for many near-retirees and budding entrepreneurs, the second part may prove to be more important: Obamacare means you don't have to depend on your boss for coverage.

In February, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that because of health reform, workers will put in 1.5% to 2% fewer hours between 2017 and 2024, the equivalent of about 2 million jobs. That's not to say that companies will push employees out. That cut is almost entirely from people choosing to work less.

Some may scale back to earn less and qualify for a larger subsidy. Others will take jobs without benefits (think startups and part-time work) since individual coverage is guaranteed.

Plus, notes University of Illinois economics professor Robert Kaestner, "the number of people retiring early is expected to increase."

Some firms, though, are worried that top performers will exit now that other insurance exists, says Tom Billet, a benefit consultant at Towers Watson.

Before you make any move, research your potential premium at

On average, 45- to 54-year-olds are paying $362 a month for single coverage, reports That may be a cost that puts saying farewell within reach.