However, one rub may be the cost. The insurance on the new marketplace is often more expensive than what a worker has now because employers often make large contributions to premiums.
The average annual premium paid by an employee is $999, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey. In the new markets, the average annual premium is $5,558 for a 50-year-old and $8,435 for a 60-year-old, according to an analysis run for The Associated Press by HealthPocket.
But some employers are cutting back on their contributions, narrowing the gap.
At this point, Americans over age 50 are most likely to take advantage of the new freedom, Garthwaite said. They're ready for a career change and may have enough savings to take a risk.
Pamela Mahoney, 50, of Los Gatos, Calif., decided to leave a job in corporate communications when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care law.
"I about did cartwheels down the hall," she said of hearing the court's decision. In January, she joined her husband full time in the communications company, BlueChair Group Inc., they co-founded. They recently chose an insurance plan for $1,100 a month on the California marketplace.
She was able to get coverage despite having asthma, a pre-existing condition that might have made her uninsurable before the new law guaranteed coverage.
"Prior to the Affordable Care Act, I felt bound to be an employee rather than a small business owner," she said. "There's something to be said for having your own business and being in control of your own destiny."
Associated Press Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson