Sunday, June 28, 2009

Healthcare reform and jobs

How will healthcare reform initiatives impact the job market in the United States? I think many people are anticipating a boom in the health information technology (health IT) sector. That's to be expected, considering how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) focuses tremendously on the role of health IT (or HITECH) in healthcare reform. Will healthcare reform boost employment? Improved health should raise productivity. What about the "pay-or-play" mandate on employers? They must either offer benefits or pay a fine.

There are some other perspectives to consider when we think about healthcare reform. Catherine Arnst writes in BusinessWeek about how healthcare reform may spur employment. She cites MIT economist Jonathan Gruber (an MIT alum who also studied at Harvard, but we won't hold that against him) for the Small Business Majority. Professor Gruber estimtaes that if reform doesn't occur and small businesses are spending over $2 trillion on healthcare over the next decade, then this may lead to a loss of 178,000 jobs in 2018.

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