Health and Science

500,000 jobs added to health-care sector under Obamacare, Goldman Sachs estimates

Dr. Martha Perez examines Maria Lebron in a room at the Community Health of South Florida, Doris Ison Health Center in Miami, Florida.
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Obamacare giveth health-care jobs — but the pending Republican repeal and replacement bill could taketh a whole lot of those gigs away.

About 500,000 of the jobs added to the health-care sector since 2012 were the result of Obamacare significantly increasing the number of Americans with insurance coverage, a new analysis says.

The Goldman Sachs report also warns that a "substantial decline in insurance coverage would also likely be associated with a drag on health-care employment and health-care consumption."

In layman's terms: fewer insured people equals fewer people working in health care.

That Goldman Sachs analysis comes as the House of Representatives was poised Thursday to vote on plan that would repeal and replace key parts of Obamacare, one that could decrease the number of people with health insurance coverage.

The bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, is being pushed by GOP leaders in Congress, and by President Donald Trump. But it faces criticism from more conservative Republicans who complain it doesn't go far enough to repeal Obamacare.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 14 million more Americans would be uninsured next year if that bill becomes law than would be if Obamacare remained intact.

By 2026, the CBO estimates, a total of 24 million more people would be uninsured under the same scenario, more than wiping out the coverage gains seen under the Affordable Care Act.

The CBO projections were released March 13. Since then, the Republican bill has been amended, but the CBO has not yet issued revised estimates for the bill.

The decreases in the number of insured people would result from the elimination of Obamacare's mandate requiring most people to have coverage or pay a fine, as well as the scaling back of federal spending on subsidies for people buying individual health plans and on Medicaid, the CBO said.

Obamacare has been credited with expanding health insurance coverage to about 20 million Americans since 2010.

Goldman Sachs' analysis found that the nationwide 5.4 percentage point increase in the number of insured people since 2012 "could explain roughly 40 percent of health-care job growth, or 500,000 additional jobs in the sector over that period."

That projection is based on an estimate that every 1 percentage-point increase in insurance coverage is associated with a 0.6 percent rise in health-care employment and health-care consumption.

Goldman said while big drops in health insurance coverage likely would be a "drag" on health-care employment and consumption, how much of an effect Obamacare replacement legislation would have would depend on the details of "alternative coverage options" that would result from such a bill.