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Differing Views on the Employment Effect of Healthcare Reform

February 15

This year, President Obama has been actively pushing for comprehensive healthcare reform. The goals of the proposed programs are lowering costs, guaranteeing a choice of doctors and plans and assuring quality affordable health care for all Americans. On July 6th, The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the Catholic Health Association agreed with the Obama administration to forego $155 billion in reimbursement from the federal government over the next 10 years. In mid-June, the pharmaceutical industry offered some $80 billion in prescription discounts over the next decade to help defray the cost of healthcare reform proposals.

How will these cuts affect healthcare employment?

Over the next few editions of Statline, we'll be exploring the drivers behind health reform and their possible implications on employment. We'll also present various viewpoints on the subject.

Jim Jaffee on theroot.com June 30, 2009

"Electronic medical records would eliminate duplicative tests done because prior results aren't readily available, but would eliminate jobs filled by the technicians who are now doing these tests."

"Skipping unneeded procedures would put some of those now staffing surgical suites out of work."

"A better insurance reimbursement system would eliminate the mountain of paperwork that's pushed between provider, patient and payer. It would also put the jobs of an army of paper pushers, many of whom work for hospitals that provide fringe benefits like health insurance, at risk."

For the full article click here

Caleb Groos on blogs.findlaw.com June 11, 2009

As reported by Reuters, the Small Business Majority (a non-profit healthcare advocacy group) released a study it commissioned, which was conducted by M.I.T. economist Jonathan Gruber. Its' key findings include: The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business study found that with certain healthcare reforms (discussed below), the following benefits would follow:

  • Small businesses would pay dramatically reduced costs to provide health insurance to their employees.
  • Small business jobs would be saved. The study cites healthcare costs as causing the loss of a projected 178,000 small business jobs by 2018. The study predicts that with healthcare reform, this could be reduced by up to 72%.
  • Small business employees' wages would be preserved. The study cites exploding healthcare costs as causing cuts in wages at small businesses. With reform bringing these costs down, more money would be left to pay wages.
  • Small business profits and competitiveness would be strengthened. Just like they eat into wages, healthcare costs cut into profits. Bringing them down, according to the study, would improve profitability.
  • "Job lock" would be reduced. Workers who feel locked into their jobs because they fear not finding comparable benefits would be freed up to change jobs. Small businesses providing health care would have a greater talent pool from which to choose employees.

For the full article click here

Facts and Figures Driving the Reform Movement - This month, Florida and Texas:

Florida:

  • Roughly 9.8 million people in Florida receive health insurance benefits on the job1, where family premiums average $12,780, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job.2
  • Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 88 % in Florida.3
  • Household budgets are strained by high costs: 21% of middle-income Florida families spend more than 10 % of their income on health care.4
  • Costs block access to care: 15% of people in Florida report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.5
  • Florida businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,400 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.6
  • 21 % of people in Florida are uninsured, and 73% of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.7
  • The percentage of Floridians with employer coverage is declining: from 57% to 54% between 2000 and 2007.8
  • Much of the decline is among workers in small businesses. While small businesses make up 78% of Florida businesses,9 only 39% of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006 — down 7% since 2000.10
  • The overall quality of care in Florida is rated as "Weak."12
  • The overall quality of Preventative measures that could keep Floridians healthier and out of the hospital is deficient, leading to problems across the age spectrum:
    • 18% of children in Florida are obese.13
    • 18% of women over the age of 50 in Florida have not received a mammogram in the past two years.
    • 36% of men over the age of 50 in Florida have never had a colorectal cancer screening.

Texas:

  • Roughly 12 million people in Texas get health insurance on the job1, where family premiums average $13,525, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job.2
  • Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 104% in Texas.3
  • Household budgets are strained by high costs: 17% of middle-income Texas families spend more than 10% of their income on health care.4
  • Costs block access to care: 20% of people in Texas report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.5
  • Texas businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,800 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.6
  • 25% of people in Texas are uninsured, and 75% of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.7
  • The percentage of Texans with employer coverage is declining: from 57% to 50% between 2000 and 2007.8
  • Much of the decline is among workers in small businesses. While small businesses make up 70% of Texas businesses,9 only 32% of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006 — down 5 % since 2000.10
  • The overall quality of care in Texas is rated as "Weak."12
  • Preventative measures that could keep Texans healthier and out of the hospital are deficient, leading to problems across the age spectrum:
    • 20% of children in Texas are obese.13
    • 25% of women over the age of 50 in Texas have not received a mammogram in the past two years.
    • 44% of men over the age of 50 in Texas have never had a colorectal cancer screening.
  • 1 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey. HIA-4 Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage by State—All Persons: 1999 to 2007, 2007.
  • 2 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2006, Table X.D. Projected 2009 premiums based on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "National Health Expenditure Data," available at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/nationalhealthexpenddata/.
  • 3 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2000, Table II.D.1.Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2006, Table X.D. Projected 2009 premiums based on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "National Health Expenditure Data," available at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/nationalhealthexpenddata/.
  • 4 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2006.
  • 5 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.
  • 6 Furnas, B., Harbage, P. (2009). "The Cost Shift from the Uninsured." Center for American Progress.
  • 7 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic Supplements, March 2007 and 2008.
  • 8 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey. HIA-4 Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage by State—All Persons: 1999 to 2007, 2007.
  • 9 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2006, Table II.A.1a.
  • 10 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2001, 2006, Table II.A.2.
  • 11 healthcare for America Now. (2009). "Premiums Soaring in Consolidated Health Insurance Market." healthcare for America Now.
  • 12 Agency for healthcare Research and Quality. 2007 State Snapshots. Available http://statesnapshots.ahrq.gov/snaps07/index.jsp.
  • 13 Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health.
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