Will Obamacare Actually Bring Healthcare Jobs?

Joe Weinlick
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As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into effect, people are concerned about how the law will affect their health insurance and their jobs—especially those with healthcare jobs. Currently, the healthcare industry is the largest private-sector industry in the nation, employing 13 percent of the entire US workforce. While President Obama has indicated that the ACA will create new healthcare jobs, experts have varied opinions. So, the question is this: will the new law create more healthcare jobs or will it cost people their jobs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 700,000 new nursing jobs will need filled by 2020, and Adam Sachs, a spokesperson for the American Nurses Association, has indicated that there is no uncertainty about the future need for nurses. Sachs believes that the influx of newly insured patients will increase the demand for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as registered nurses (RNs) in clinics, physician offices, and multispecialty groups. In addition, more healthcare jobs will become available as people retire over the next decade and baby boomers sign up for Medicare.

However, the outlook for nurses isn't all positive. According to Karen Daley, the president of the American Nursing Association, Obamacare will force the industry to emphasize nurses' skills to best help the patients, which will create a need for nurses with special skills and higher degrees. This could result in a higher need for nurse practitioners and cuts for staff nurses. Because salaries are high for staff nurses, some employers are replacing RNs with licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Title V of the ACA includes more than forty provisions that support, increase, and encourage innovation in the healthcare workforce. So, overall the amount of new healthcare jobs is expected to increase. In addition for nurses who specialize in specific skills, the industry will have a need to people who specialize in health maintenance, like health coaches and care coordinators. Providers who implement different forms of health-related technology will also get payments, so available positions for health IT staff are expected to increase. Also, Obamacare gives states the power to recruit new healthcare workers and helps to fund and expand community healthcare centers, which will help create new jobs in the healthcare industry.

The Affordable Care Act completely changes the entire healthcare industry. While experts are expecting an increase in available healthcare jobs in the future, it's impossible to determine exactly how the jobs in the healthcare industry will be affected. In fact, according to Forbes.com, it will likely take years before the full impact of the ACA on the labor market is fully understood. In the meantime, it's important to remember that the ACA is likely to create a variety of specialized healthcare jobs, making it imperative for healthcare professionals to hone their skills and get any extra training they need.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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