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AHA: Hospitals a $2T Economic Driver

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 25, 2013

With Congress and states looking to trim healthcare spending, the American Hospital Association this week issued a none-too-subtle reminder that hospitals are economic engines for the communities they serve.

Citing various data sources, AHA said that the nation's hospitals employ 5.5 million people and create $2 trillion dollars in economic activity, even as "some in Congress continue to threaten access to hospital services."

"It's important that people understand that hospitals are not a drain on our economy. They are a driver," Caroline Steinberg, AHA's vice president for trends analysis, told HealthLeaders Media. "They not only provide medical care to support a healthy and productive workforce. They also act as an economic engine supporting trillions of dollars of economic activity nationwide."

"Very few people really understand that," Steinberg says. "I remember some years back being at a conference where they were talking about national health expenditures. Everything they said, if they had said it about another sector of the economy, it would have been a positive. 'It's growing as a share of (Gross Domestic Product). It has this many more people employed. It's a growth industry.'"

Steinberg noted that the healthcare sector added an average of 28,000 new jobs each month in 2012. "Throughout the recession healthcare was a steady producer of jobs and you can't really say that about any other industries," she says.

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2 comments on "AHA: Hospitals a $2T Economic Driver"


Deborah Michael (1/27/2013 at 8:25 PM)
Thank you for this great article. I truly appreciate this perspective instead of all the negative comments recently regarding healthcare costs and clinicians' reimbursement. Currently hospitals are composed of a plethora of non clinician positions just to stay current with all the compliance and billing issues. Hospitals provide employment to so many non healthcare workers these days it would be very interesting to see how money is distributed salary wise between clinicians & non clinicians. Maybe the public should be educated where all the money is being spent in addition to their direct healthcare. I do my best to explain the reason some costs are inflated. For example, an aspirin maybe billed for $ 3.00 - $7.00 but this money is divided among the nurses, nurse assistants, additional healthcare ancillary staff, the maintenance and electronic crew who keep the hospitals sanitary & keep monitors functioning properly, the IT people who keep our pc's functioning and up to date with the latest HIPPA safety measures, for the quality insurance staff, for the billing staff, for programs to keep the hospital staff current not only with medical information, care protocols, etc.... Unlike many fields, healthcare providers need to be professionally trained and certified. This is obtained usually only with advanced degrees and training. We are constantly re certifying with board exams & CME. Certain healthcare workers must repay over & over licensing fees, DEA licenses and many additional other costs, unlike many/ most professions. Again Thank you for enlightening myself and hopefully the Congress regarding how hospitals make a difference in our communities, with healthcare as well as employment. If you do not have good healthcare your life can be miserable or considerably shorter. Sincerely, Deborah Michael

Prafull Shah (1/25/2013 at 1:40 PM)
"Hospitals a $2T Economic Driver"? One can immediately argue that showing economical muscle and competing to create more jobs may be one of the major reasons why US healthcare is THE MOST EXPENSIVE in the world, and that in spite of large healthcare workforce, we are not getting the quality, accessibility, and affordability compared to most developed countries of the world!