The healthcare industry added almost a half million people to its payrolls in 2015, by far the highest annual total since President Barack Obama took office and passed his landmark healthcare reform law. During the Obama presidency, which soon enters its final year, more than 1.86 million healthcare jobs have been created.
Hospitals, doctors' offices and outpatient centers have hired new employees in droves at least partly because of the overhaul of the health insurance market. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid and created public insurance marketplaces, resulting in millions of individuals and family members with pent-up healthcare needs obtaining coverage. The most recent estimates from HHS show 11.3 million people have signed up for a health plan on the state or federal exchanges so far in 2016.
In 2015, healthcare added 474,700 jobs, compared with 259,200 jobs the prior year, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2015 total is more than the 410,000 jobs created in healthcare in 2014 and 2013 combined.
The increased hiring figures bode well for those pursuing healthcare employment as well as for the broader economy, but they also raise red flags about whether the sector is doing enough to control costs.
“The only way to see these increasing job numbers is to see more spending in healthcare,” Northwestern University health economist Craig Garthwaite told Modern Healthcare last month. “It does very much suggest we are not doing a good job of bending the cost curve.”