Career Choices

Written by Suzanne Hite, former publications editor serving the technology services sector

Question: Are there still good prospects for a career in healthcare even if Obamacare is rescinded?

Answer: The government’s actions on healthcare will affect all of us, whether they decide to repeal Obamacare or not. We cannot predict what the new administration will do with the policies of the old, but we can look at the healthcare industry as a source of employment and draw some conclusions from that.

When the Obama administration launched its healthcare reforms over eight years ago, it drastically altered the employment situation over the next decade. The economy was in a bad shape and new employment opportunities were badly needed. The result was an unsustainable employment bubble in the healthcare sector.

The great recession of 2008 caused widespread fear and panic, as all industries across the country shed jobs, except one. China’s earlier entry into the World Trade Organization caused U.S. manufacturing to virtually collapse at the expense of millions of jobs. The retail sector took a battering which lasted over two years, and the economy as a whole lost over 9 million jobs in the dark days between January 2008 and February 2010.

Only one sector shone during the downturn. Healthcare added 550,000 jobs in those two years and created new opportunities every month while the rest of the economy languished in despair. Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, resulted in the creation of millions of new health insurance policies. Employment in the healthcare sector had jumped almost 9% by 2012.

According to BLS reports, around 19 million people currently work in healthcare, an industry driven by government spending and an ageing population. The sector is widely regarded to be recession-proof – sickness and surgery do not wait for economic recovery. The healthcare employment boom looks great on paper, but it could also be a bubble waiting to burst. Considering that women comprise a high percentage of healthcare jobs, they will bear the brunt if the system collapses.

All of these salaries need to be paid for, which goes a long way in explaining why healthcare in the U.S. is so expensive. According to Steven Zeldes at Avacare Medical Supplies, U.S. companies blame these rising costs for the inability to compete with overseas rivals. It is also responsible for stifling investment and stagnating wages. The rest of the economy has suffered at the expense of rapid expansion of the healthcare sector. A larger healthcare bill is the result, and this must be picked up by the patients, employers and the taxpayer.

The current system is wasteful and bloated with non-medically trained office staff, administrators and assistants, resulting in higher costs and poorer care. Going paperless could be one way to reduce costs and materials while increasing efficiency and patient confidentiality protection. In addition to this are the tens of thousands of clerical and administrative office jobs associated with the burgeoning health insurance industry, all tallying to the cost of premiums.

If a mass culling of jobs to revolutionize and streamline the healthcare industry ever occurs, it will be those without medical training that go first. Medical skills and qualifications gained at college will go a long way when the crunch comes.

What Obamacare does is decreases choices and drives up cost. – Ted Cruz