"Job lock” (also written as “job-lock” and “joblock") is the condition where someone is locked into a job that he or she might otherwise want to leave. One reason for not leaving might be that the economy is poor and there is difficulty in finding another job. Another reason for not leaving is that the current job provides health insurance benefits that are not portable and could be lost. “Job lock” was cited as a reason for various health care legislation.
“It can also lead to job lock, which means that cancer survivors stay in jobs they hate because they are afraid no one else will hire them or give them health insurance” was cited it print in 1989.
Wikipedia: Job lock
The term job lock is used to describe the inability of an employee to freely leave a job because doing so will result in the loss of employee benefits (usually health or retirement related). In a broader sense, job lock may describe the situation where an employee is being paid higher than scale or has accumulated significant benefits, so that changing jobs is not a realistic option as it would result in significantly lower pay, less vacation time, etc.
Benefits-related job lock is a concern in United States because the greatest source of insurance for most Americans is Employer Provided Health Insurance (EPHI). While EPHI offers several advantages over individually purchased health insurance, such as lower premiums and informed purchasing, it has a major disadvantage in that the employees cannot take their EPHI to their next place of employment. The nonportability of EPHI is what causes workers to get locked into their present jobs, hence the term job lock.
9 May 1989, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Cancer survivors facing discrimination at work” by Suzanne Dolezal (Knight-Ridder), pg. 8C, cols. 3-4:
“It can also lead to job lock, which means that cancer survivors stay in jobs they hate because they are afraid no one else will hire them or give them health insurance.”
(Said by Barbara Hoffman, a New Jersey attorney who specializes in civil rights and health issues.—ed.)
New York (NY) Times
High Medical Costs Hurt Growing Numbers in U.S.
By TAMAR LEWIN
Published: April 28, 1991
Long a gnawing worry of the poor, medical expenses and health insurance are now a source of mounting anxiety for millions of middle-class Americans—healthy or sick, insured or not.
For a growing number of people, insurance status has become the pivotal factor in important personal decisions, trapping some people in jobs they do not want and forcing others to forgo needed medical care.
One spreading phenomenon is known as “job-lock”—fear of changing jobs because of a medical history that, in today’s more stringent insurance market, would probably prevent a worker’s acceptance by a new health plan. Cancer patients or those with chronic diseases are most vulnerable.
Baltimore (MD) Sun
July 25, 1991
The worst impacts are job and insurance discrimination. Although studies repeatedly show that that people with a cancer history are as productive as their fellow workers, the American Cancer Society reports that one in four survivors suffers from cancer-related job discrimination. Some survivors suffer “job lock,” afraid of losing health and life insurance coverage if they seek new employment. And then they’d have to confine their search to employers with a large group insurance plan.
OCLC WorldCat record
Employment-based health insurance and job mobility : is there evidence of job-lock?
Author: Brigitte C Madrian; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : National Bureau of Economic Research, 
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), working paper no. 4476.
Edition/Format: Book : National government publication : English
Washington (DC) Monthly
A Shot in the Arm
How today’s health care reform can create tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
By Jonathan Gruber
The main reason for this is a phenomenon known as “job lock,” a term coined during the last round of debate over universal health coverage in the early 1990s. Job lock refers to the fact that workers are often unwilling to leave a current job that provides health insurance for another position that might not, even if they would be more productive in that other position. This is because employer-provided insurance is traditionally the only reliable form of fairly priced private insurance coverage available in the U.S. The alternative is to purchase insurance in the nongroup market, where insurance prices and availability are typically not regulated, so insurance companies can drop individuals when they become ill or charge them exorbitant prices. As a result, individuals feel “locked” into less productive jobs.
OCLC WorldCat record
Health care coverage : job lock and the potential impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Author: Andrew Sherrill; John E Dicken; United States. Government Accountability Office.
Publisher: Washington, DC : U.S. Govt. Accountability Office, 
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : National government publication : English
Los Angeles (CA) Times
‘Job-lock’ and the Republican dilemma over Obamacare
By Michael Hiltzik
February 5, 2014, 11:15 a.m.
But it’s now becoming plain that the CBO finding creates a problem for Republican critics of the healthcare law. That’s because relieving millions of Americans of “job-lock,” which is what the CBO is talking about, is something the GOP has favored for years. In fact, it was a selling point of healthcare proposals they put on the table prior to 2010, when they decided to abandon the field of healthcare reform.
For example, listen to Ryan speaking in May 2009: “[The] key question that ought to be addressed in any healthcare reform legislation is, are we going to continue job-lock or are we going to allow individuals more choice and portability to fit the 21st century workforce?”
Here are a couple of Heritage Foundation analysts in 2008, praising a healthcare plan proposed by then-GOP presidential nominee John McCain: “Individuals who wish to take a better job, change careers or leave the workforce to raise a family or to retire early take substantial risks. ... This health insurance obstacle to labor mobility is sometimes called ‘job-lock.’” (Igor Volsky has more examples of conservative hand-wringing about job-lock here.)
The Right Scoop
MARK LEVIN blasts Democrats over phoney Obamacare ‘JOB LOCK’ argument
Posted on Feb 5, 2014 at 7:02 PM in Politics
By The Right Scoop
Mark Levin points out that if this ‘job lock’ issue (people locked in their jobs because of employer-based health care) is such a big issue, why did Congress and the Unions get a waiver so they could keep their employer-based health care? After all, they are claiming ‘job lock’ is the reason why the CBO report is a good thing.