• Todd Eiseman

How the ACA Affects Hiring in Healthcare

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a massive 19 percent growth in healthcare occupations from 2014 to 2024, adding more jobs than any other industry or sector in the US. Although there are various factors behind this growth, the most impactful by far is certainly due to healthcare reform. Experts say that within the next five years alone, one in every eight US jobs will be healthcare-related. With such intense demand for healthcare professionals, a rise in challenges and obstacles is inevitable for those responsible for hiring. We take an in-depth look at how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects hiring in healthcare, and what this means for you as an employer.

Unprecedented Growth in Healthcare Occupations

The core objective of the Affordable Care Act has been to provide everyone with access to health insurance. Government officials claim this objective is steadily being met, with 20 million people gaining coverage through the ACA, including 6 million previously uninsured young adults. This growth of insured individuals naturally leads to an increase in demand for healthcare services.

However, the complexity of the healthcare industry is such that demand reaches much further than the roles of medical professionals like physicians and registered nurses. The industry is desperate for more people in areas such as case workers, medical records and billing, and healthcare IT. In circular fashion, as the healthcare workforce grows in size, HR professionals are also in increased demand.

Furthermore, due to particular health benefits that the ACA specifies in its requirements, there is also a greater need for professionals in categories such as ambulatory care, laboratory services, mental health, preventative care, and rehabilitative services. These gains are significant, with the BLS reporting that almost half a million jobs in ambulatory health services have been added since January 2014.

Navigating the Healthcare Talent Shortage

It should come of little surprise that this exponential growth in demand is being met by a short supply of workers. A recent Bullhorn survey reveals that 77% of healthcare employers are scrambling to fill positions and claiming a major talent shortage, particularly in roles outside of the hospital itself.

While the ACA is in large part responsible for this impact, there’s also population demographics to consider as Baby Boomers become the largest aging population. This shift means, simultaneously, mass retirements from the healthcare workforce, as well as an increased demand in geriatric medicine. Other talent shortage factors include an unbalanced distribution between urban and rural healthcare services, and a disproportionate ratio of primary care versus specialty care providers.

As is often the case when employment demand is this high, retention is also a major challenge because professionals are beginning to see organizations get increasingly competitive in attracting new candidates. Addressing the challenges of both the talent shortage and increased turnover may require a fundamental shift in recruitment and retention strategies. For example, healthcare workers have traditionally sacrificed significant work-life balance in order to reap greater pay and responsibility. This choice may no longer be the general case, however, especially as the Millennial generation, which places high value on flexibility and meaningful work, more thoroughly penetrates the healthcare workforce.

More Effects of the ACA on the Healthcare Workforce

At a macro level, it’s clear that the ACA affects hiring in healthcare by massively increasing demand. On a micro level, however, there’s also significant impact. As the ACA imposes a myriad of legal regulations and higher expectations, higher stress levels are becoming more apparent across all functions in the healthcare workforce, which greatly impacts quality of performance, as well as turnover.

The talent shortage isn’t only a headache for hiring managers; it also implies a massive burden on the workload of existing workers, whose hours are only getting longer while their bandwidth gets tighter. Additionally, there’s a huge increase in paperwork and a greater risk of penalties. These factors inevitably result in employee burnout, leaving employers scrambling to find ways to address these problems and take care of their employees while simultaneously maintaining compliance standards and meeting the needs of an increased number of patients.

Responding to the ACA’s Impact on Healthcare Hiring

It’s more than evident that the ACA affects hiring in healthcare on a wide scale, across the country and across a broad range of functional roles. Organizations seeking to stay ahead of the war for talent should look internally to reevaluate their recruitment strategies and focus on retention of their current workforce.

Hiring from the shrinking pool of healthcare resources mean organizations need to pay even more attention to the quality and integrity of their candidates. We are here to help optimize your hiring process by delivering highly accurate and customized healthcare background screening services.

Please contact us to see how we might be of service.


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