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New data contradicts the worst fears of Obamacare critics

Ever since President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform became a reality, critics have suggested it could backfire — hurting employers and even costing Americans jobs.

One of the Affordable Care Act’s mandates requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide affordable health insurance for full-timers.

Many critics argued that this requirement would burden employers, dissuading them from transitioning part-time workers to full-time, even if it would otherwise be advantageous. Other Obamacare critics said the mandate would drive up premium costs for employers, hurting job numbers for ordinary Americans in the process.

On Wednesday the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), partnering with the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), released its 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey, sharing a detailed view of what KFF CEO and president Drew Altman called “the single-largest part of the health insurance system” in a conference call for reporters. (The ACA “only” insures 20 million out of the roughly 290 million that are insured.)

The study mostly details the changing landscape of how Americans are paying for health care, noting that premiums are rising more slowly, but deductibles are spiking. However, the survey also appeared to refute some main criticisms of Obamacare.

In the conference call discussing the results, HRET CEO Ken Anderson stressed two big findings that contradict criticism of Obamacare. That includes an argument by Carl’s Jr. CEO Andy Puzder, who wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed in January saying, “Obamacare has caused millions of full-time jobs to become part-time.”

In fact, the opposite happened: A whopping 7% of employers with more than 50 employees actually gave part-timers full-time jobs since Obamacare was officially launched in 2013. Only 2% of employers cut full-timers to part-time. However, it’s important to note this full-time surge came amid other gains for American workers in 2015, as noted by a recent Census report.

And as for rising health care premiums? Well, they actually increased less than they have in ages, in part thanks to high-deductible plans that give employees more “skin in the game,” as Altman noted, transferring the burden off employers.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on personal finance and tech. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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