WASHINGTON - The Affordable Care Act will create a healthier population less burdened by excessive medical bills and the fear of economic ruin from getting sick.
That increased physical and financial security for consumers will translate into a healthier business environment for health providers, insurers, suppliers and the rest of our national economy.
Consumers drive the economy, and they will see the most positive benefits from the health-care act. It is projected that 30 million uninsured or underinsured Americans will now be able to access affordable care.
That's 30 million new customers for the health-care industry, whether it is insurance companies providing coverage, care providers delivering services or the vast network of suppliers for the industry producing health-care related products.
In 2012, health-care hiring accounted for nearly 300,000 jobs or one-sixth of the total new jobs for the year. This trend will continue under the ACA. This alone will create jobs boosting local economies everywhere.
One of the largest impacts of the ACA is the expansion of Medicaid, a state-based health-care program for low-income families. Improved health, both physical and financial, for the poor residents in participating states should boost local economies as more invigorated citizens shop, work and start small businesses.
The workforce should be strengthened by having more people receiving the necessary care they need to stay healthy and productive as employees. Healthier and more productive workers generate more income.
Another positive effect of the Affordable Care Act is the slowing of health-insurance cost increases. Many would argue that cost containment fell short in the ACA, and there certainly is more to be done in that area.
However, it is hard to overlook the impact of adding millions of younger, healthier and, therefore, lower-risk people to insurance rolls. Young people are among the largest groups of the uninsured and directly benefit from the ACA's provision allowing coverage through parents' plans up to age 26. The health insurance industry stands to gain significantly from having young people enrolled, offsetting the costs of insuring older individuals and those with pre-existing conditions, thus moderating rises in premiums paid by consumers.
Other positive impacts include portability of health coverage, which frees workers to move to better jobs, thus adding to the fluidity of the labor market and tax credits making it easier for individuals and small businesses to get coverage.
Some impacts are already being seen and others will be soon. Any short-term hardship that may come from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will certainly be offset by the many positive economic outcomes of providing more and better health care to more of the American people.
Yes, it will boost hiring, productivity
Every Monday we offer pro/con pieces from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service to give readers a broad view of issues.
Don Kusler is executive director of Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal advocacy organization.