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AHA: Hospitals a $2T Economic Driver

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 25, 2013

"About 60% of the money spent on hospital care goes to the wages of the staff. If you were going to spend that $1 at Wal-Mart, a lot of that $1 goes to China. Healthcare is different because it stays in the local economy and it has a high multiplier effect."

Richard (Buz) Cooper, MD, director of the Center for the Future of the Healthcare Workforce at New York Institute of Technology, says there are worse things to spend money on than healthcare.  

"The reality is healthcare is a major industry," Cooper wrote in an email exchange with HealthLeaders Media. "Our problem is not that there's too much. It's that when there's more, social justice demands that it be distributed across income groups, and this happens in a much more equitable manner than transportation, food or housing and therefore entails greater transfers of wealth and taxes."

"But think about it. Take healthcare from Pittsburgh and you have just another Rust Belt town. Try doing it in New York or Philadelphia or Houston, and others," Cooper wrote.

"This is what America does. And it creates jobs, well-paying jobs—jobs with upward mobility, jobs that pay taxes that support schools and other important services. Healthcare accounts for about 10% of [all] jobs, but 20% of new jobs. This is the future. Don't kill it."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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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!