Monday, January 23, 2017

Obamacare’s Bureaucracy: The Amazing Rise in Health Insurance Jobs

As Congress and President Trump debate how to repeal and replace Obamacare, the obsession with health insurance, rather than actual access to health care, has dominated the debate. It invites the question: How have jobs in health insurance fared before and after Obamacare?

They have boomed, growing over one quarter since the January 20 employment pre-recession high-tater mark.

Before the Great Recession, nonfarm civilian employment peaked in January 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It bottomed out in February 2010, with 6.28 percent of jobs having disappeared over 25 months. (The Affordable Care Act was signed in March 2010.) Nonfarm civilian employment recovered its losses in May 2014, and has grown since then. As of last November, nonfarm civilian payrolls had increased 11.88 percent from the February 2010 low, and 4.85 percent from the January 2008 peak.

Health insurers employed 441,500 at the January 2008 peak. However, they added jobs during the Great Recession. In February 2010, when the rest of the job market had bottomed out, health insurers employed 441,800 workers. Recall Obamacare had not yet been signed, yet health insurers withstood the recession nevertheless.

By May 2014, when nonfarm civilian payrolls finally regained their January 2008 peak, health insurers employed 487,800 workers, already an increase of 10.49 percent from the previous peak. As of last November, health insurance payrolls had increased 25.75 percent from the previous peak, to 555,200 workers.

This boom was limited to health insurance. Other insurance workers continue to suffer. Employment among insurers in other lines of business has dropped 5.31 percent from the January 2008 peak, when they employed a little over one million workers. Today, they employ 972,400.

In January 2008, health insurers accounted for 30 percent of all insurance jobs. Last November, the share had increased to 36 percent. For anyone without a job in health insurance, it is a precise and painful reminder of the bureaucratic burden imposed by Obamacare. 

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