The American Health Policy Institute has some data [emphasis in the original]. Although their study concerned itself primarily with the cost impact of Obamacare to large employers—those with 10,000 or more employees—the study’s outcome has implications for our economy’s jobs picture.
- The cost of the ACA…is estimated to be between $4,800 to $5,900 per employee.
- These large employers will see overall ACA-related cost hikes of…4.3 percent in 2016 and 8.4 percent in 2023 over and above what they would otherwise be spending.
- The total cost of the ACA to all large US employers over the next ten years is estimated to be from $151 billion to $186 billion.
This comes after a downward trend in employer cost increases—to no and nearly no increase just prior to Obamacare’s passage—for employee health care benefits has been completely reversed by Obamacare, as this graph from the study demonstrates:
Now for those implications:
At the US median annual wage of $51,000 in 2013 (a decrease from 2012, an added bonus of President Barack Obama’s economic policies), and just taking the lower bound of the 10-year cost range, those $151 billion in added dollar costs work out to a jobs cost of nearly 3 million jobs over that decade—300,000 jobs per year—in a static analysis that ignores the economy’s response to the loss of those jobs: a loss that would increase by some amount each succeeding year as the economy actually responded.
Alternatively, that $151 billion cost is money not being spent on R&D or product development. To put this in perspective, US companies spent some $424 billion on R&D in 2013; at $15.1 billion/year over the decade, that works out to a 3.6% cut in R&D. This is a very large drop in a company expense that’s already very low in an increasingly competitive global economy (if not particularly competitive anymore in the US)—Apple’s R&D spending, for instance, amounted to just 3% of net sales in 2013; IBM and GM spent just 5-6% of total revenue on R&D. This reduction leads directly to a commensurate cut in company profitability, with its own cascade effect on jobs in the US.
Of course, the true outcome will be somewhere in between—a loss of fewer than 3 million jobs, but still a large loss, and a cut in R&D of less than 3.6%, but still a significant cut—each and both with still significant cascade effects in future job losses.