Workers would have to be more skilled than typical call- center employees, Caswell said. They will need to answer questions about various insurance plans and terminology, help customers pick the right plan, speak multiple languages and deal with complex family and income situations.
The need for positions probably will taper off in 2016 when most people are expected to have purchased an insurance plan, he said.
The annual market for providing customer support for the exchanges could be worth $500 million, he said. There could also be an additional $200 million a year in business for helping states expand their Medicaid programs.
Another requirement under the law, the switch to a more sophisticated method of coding for reimbursement of care, is also creating new jobs, said Drea Howze, health-care product manager in Bayville, New Jersey, for staffing company Kelly Services Inc. The industry is changing from a standard that used 17,000 codes to a new system with 141,000 codes.
“If you can’t bill for services, you can’t get paid for services,” she said. “We’re seeing a huge increase in need for coders from insurance companies.”
With the demand for new coders, I.T. professionals and the clinicians and trainers needed to support them, the shortage of workers may be more than 300,000, said Melisa Bockrath, vice president, Americas Product Group for IT at Troy, Michigan-based Kelly Services.
The shortfall already is growing. A 2012 survey by Ann Arbor, Michigan-based professional association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, found that 67 percent of respondents are having difficulty finding employees, an increase from 59 percent in 2010.
The shift in health care will mean changes from the back office to the corporate corner office, said J. Larry Tyler, chief executive officer at health-care recruiter Tyler & Company in Atlanta. Titles such as “chief health enabler” and “chief transformational officer” will proliferate, and medical personnel such as doctors may be elevated from staff jobs to help with the transition, he said. “A lot of the ways we are doing things are just developing.”
Tricas said he’s been watching the health-care industry evolve for several years and pursued an eclectic range of projects in I.T., trying to shift to new areas as they opened up.
“You’re at an early growth curve,” he said. “This is the ground level. You can kind of make your own opportunities.”
This story originally appeared at Health Data Management.