Saturday, December 5, 2009

Health Care Job Growth

Health care has added 613,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007 while total U.S. economy has lost some 7 million jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that every subcategory of health-care grouping showed job growth in November except outpatient care centers, which lost 3,300 positions. Home health-care services added 7,300 jobs and hospitals put another 6,800 on their payrolls.

What is it about health care that’s different from the rest of the economy?

• Is it because unemployed people, and the growing number of uninsured, are sicker?

• Is it because health care is an essential service people cannot do without?

• Is it because doctors and hospitals are doing more to brace for the coming uncertainties of health reform?

• Is it because consumers are flocking to health care facilities while their plans and Medicare benefits are still intact?

• Is it because Medicare benefits are still unrestricted and flow freely to hospitals, doctors, and patients?

• Is it because health care people are simply more educated and in demand?
Or could it be because innovation and entrepreneurship is alive and well in American health care? Could it be because doctors are good business people and effective entrepreneurs in supplementing and maintaining their cash flow?

Here are more facts:

• As the largest industry in the U.S, health care provides14 million jobs—13.6 million jobs for wage and salary workers and about 438,000 jobs for the self-employed.

• 7 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are health care related.

• Health care will generate 3 million new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016, more than any other industry.

Most workers have jobs that require less than 4 years of college education, but health diagnosing and treating practitioners are among the most educated workers.

Combining medical technology and the human touch, the health care industry administer care around the clock, responding to the needs of millions of people—from newborns to the critically ill.

About 580,000 establishments make up the health care industry; they vary greatly in terms of size, staffing patterns, and organizational structures. Nearly 77 percent of health care establishments are offices of physicians, dentists, or other health practitioners.

Although hospitals constitute only 1 percent of all health establishments, they employ 35 percent of all workers , while nursing homes employ 23%, and doctors’ offices employ 17%.

Most current health reform efforts are directed towards expanding coverage and cutting costs. These may be incompatible goals considering the public demand for more health care, the government sorry record in bringing down Medicare and Medicaid costs, and the decentralized nature of health care.

Government has two basic options for bringing down costs: cutting provider payments and rationing care. The goverment record of achieving efficiencies through preventive programs, coordinated care, and health information technologies is not impressive and indeed, is either unproven or will be delayed for years.

Another option is consumer-driven care, tax credits for all, with cost-shifting and more choices for health plans across state lines for patients. This would entail relying on insured patients making informed market-based decisions and doctor and hospital competition for consumers. Some countries, like the Netherlands and Switzerland, have achieved universal coverage with mandatory insurance, consumer choices , competing private plans, and strong government oversight to contain costs.

Given the Democrats’ obsession to achieve centralized government-control over spending, this scenario seems unlikely in the U.S, at least for now.

1 comment:

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