Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) frequently assert that implementation of the law will lead to the loss of millions of jobs. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. Experts predict, however, that the number of healthcare jobs will significantly increase over the next few years as healthcare providers make changes to conform to the new regulations and expand to serve a larger pool of patients.
Considering millions of previously uninsured people are now covered under some type of health insurance plan, it's not surprising the healthcare industry would need to increase hiring to accommodate the amplified demand for services. Many of the healthcare jobs created will be for doctors and nurses. A good portion, though, will open up in areas of support. For example, computer programmers will be needed to create or improve data management systems to make it easier to conform to the collaborative care model built into the ACA.
There will also be an increase in healthcare jobs for administrators who can manage and direct operations. The recruiting firm Witt/Kieffer report there's already been a 121 percent growth in the number of searches conducted for chief medical officers as well as a 43 percent increase for medical executives. In the private sector, businesses may need to hire more human resource professionals to ensure the company remains compliant with the requirements of the ACA.
The Affordable Care Act will not only affect the number of healthcare jobs available but also the makeup of those jobs. One consequence of implementing the law is there currently isn't enough qualified staff to fill demand. The industry is already struggling with a dearth of doctors, a shortage that's expected to grow to 45,000 by 2020. The sudden influx of new patients will likely acerbate the situation. To help minimize the gap, healthcare providers are expected to start hiring more nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
People in these positions typically have master and doctorate degrees and are skilled enough to perform many of the duties of a medical doctor. According to Susan Mesa, president of AdvancedPractice.com, NPs and PAs can do up to 85 percent of what a doctor does but cost half as much to employ. With the focus on keeping healthcare costs down, it is likely providers will lean heavily on these medical professionals, resulting in increased healthcare jobs and opportunities for people with that type of training and education.
While many industries are faltering in the new economic reality created by the 2008 meltdown, the healthcare sector will carry on its longstanding trend of adding healthcare jobs. While the types of jobs available may change, the industry will continue to offer those looking for good wages and stable employment plenty of both for years to come.
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