ACA’s impact on jobs ignites debate

2 min read

In the midst of a debate about Obamacare’s impact on the U.S. economy, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) faculty say that it’s important to focus not only on the potential economic drag of the health reform law but also on its much-needed emphasis on lower costs and greater efficiency in the health care system.

Obamacare’s economic impact became a hot topic after a Congressional Budget Office analysis released February 4, 2014 found that more than two million Americans who would otherwise rely on a job for health insurance will either quit working or reduce their hours because of new health benefits available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

David Cutler, professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, said in a February 8 New York Times article that while it’s true that a slowdown in the health care sector can hurt the economy in a recession, it still wouldn’t have made sense to keep the old, “clearly bloated” health care system and “make that sector stay bloated.”

Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics, told the Times that it’s a mistake to focus on the pain caused to workers in the health care industry rather than the benefits to everyone else. “If you could get [health care] with fewer resources, that would be better for everyone,” she said.