The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, continues to be the dominant variable in the health care industry, locally and nationwide.
Health care demand softened last year, partly from a mild winter with fewer admissions, partly from changes in the market and partly from the impending arrival of the Affordable Care Act, said Gene Diamond, Franciscan Alliance Northern Indiana Region CEO.
In anticipation of the new health care law, some employers changed their insurance coverage for employees, which led to higher co-pays, higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket costs, Diamond said.
People became more responsible for their health care as a result.
"We saw the demand rather precipitously decline for inpatient services as well as outpatient services," he said.
The softened demand impacted hiring.
"The first time in my career – my 35-year career as an executive in health care – in December, health care employment actually went down," he said.
Diamond expects health care in Northwest Indiana to remain flat over the next six months.