In a nation as large as the United States, there is always the chance that major policy changes will impact the rest of the world. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
At first, it may seem odd that a domestic change in how Americans purchase health insurance would affect other nations. However, taking into consideration the fact that health care is actually a global product, with medicines and equipment purchased from around the world, it makes more sense. Any change in how medicine, equipment, and procedures are dispensed in the United States will have a major impact on manufacturers and suppliers worldwide.
New Jobs – But Where?
Some of the major employment opportunities generated by the ACA are additional IT contracts intended to incentivize states to upgrade their Medicaid information systems and streamline their Medicaid technology processes. New positions are being created for skilled workers as states award the contracts to companies that can make the changes and staff the new Medicaid technical work.
Between 7,000 and 9,000 new customer service jobs stand to be created as a result of the ACA. Maximus, a customer service firm, has contracts with Washington, D.C., Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, and Hawaii that will create 4,000 jobs. Maximus has partnered with Vangent, a call center contractor that provides customer service for questions regarding Medicare. Vangent has also been contracted to provide similar assistance and answer web- and phone-based calls from the general public about the ACA as well. These customer service and call center positions will be long-term employment opportunities that extend well beyond the early days of the implementation of the health care exchanges.
With regard to the temporary employment picture, records-management firm Serco will hire 1,500 new employees throughout Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas to help process paper applications for health care insurance. Kentucky, Colorado, and New York will see new tech jobs created due to a contract with hCentive, a health care IT firm. Additionally, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has tapped several community organizations to hire 350 new health care exchange navigators to assist with enrollment. [SEER2]
In September, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn awarded Illinois’ IT contract to Cognizant Technology Solutions, which immediately began to staff for the work in Chennai and Bangalore, India. This caused an outcry as Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. However, the cost of hiring Indian employees is much lower than the cost of hiring American employees, which may result in future key contract jobs awarded to contractors overseas as opposed to those Stateside.
With India well-known for IT outsourcing, it is likely with further investments in health information technology and data management, that the country will continue to benefit from increased job growth and stronger company financials.
New Pressure For Generic Drugs
The Affordable Care Act gives insurance companies new incentives to keep premium costs low as they compete directly for newly-insured Americans. It is anticipated that one strategy for keeping costs low will be encouraging the use of generic drugs through incentives for physicians and benefit design. Doctors are being encouraged to move patients to generics whenever appropriate, and health insurance plans often contain an extra cost for patients who insist on the brand-name drug. On electronic health records across the country, generic alternatives pop up automatically when a doctor enters a brand name drug.
This is a huge boon for India, a country where the Indian Department of Commerce estimates that one out of every seven generic drugs are manufactured. However, India is not the only country that manufactures generic drugs. China, Israel, Germany and France also boast generic drug manufacturers such as Teva, Sandoz, Actavis Inc, and Sanofi, respectively. By encouraging the prescription of generic drugs, the ACA could significantly impact revenue for these manufacturers.
The world economy is interdependent and American companies rely on manufacturers and workers in other countries to grow their businesses affordably. As IT, generic drugs, and other health care products continue to grow in importance, the work employees in these nations do to help our companies will also grow in significance. As Americans, we are not alone in the world, and the impacts of ObamaCare will continue to be felt worldwide.