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Health jobs hit U.S. record, driven by economy and PPACA

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Health jobs made up 10.7 percent of all jobs in August. That’s 15.2 million people employed in doctors’ offices, hospitals and home care on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said Friday, up from 14.7 million a year earlier.

There are two main trends behind the jump. As the U.S. population gets older, its health care needs are increasing. And hospitals and doctors got millions of new customers under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which gave people subsidies to buy coverage and required many employers to provide insurance.

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In 2014, about 53.8 million people got coverage from Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled. That’s up from 52.3 million in 2013, and 41.7 million a decade earlier. The Census Bureau projects that about a quarter of the U.S. population, or 88 million people, will be 65 or older in 2050, up from about 13 percent of the population now.

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As the economy improved and insurance-PPACA coverage rules kicked in, and more people gained insurance coverage. The proportion of the population with insurance was 88.5 percent at the end of last year, up from 85.6 percent a year earlier. The rate had hovered around 85 percent for more than a decade, though it fell as people lost jobs in the recession.

—With assistance from John Tozzi in New York.