Blog | Friday, May 26, 2017

'Crowding' and other items


The stock market is up. But the economy sputters along. It grows, but only slowly.

The health care sector has been an exception to the trend of slow growth. It continues to employ more Americans than ever before, without much sign of slowing down. [Correction. Here's a sign of some slowing.]

The health care industry has become so huge that it comprises nearly one-fifth of the economy. Now, one in nine American workers are somehow in health care (think medical coders, billing specialists, and various administrators). It's astonishing. Whole cities (Hello Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc., etc.) rely on health care as their #1 sources of jobs/income/investment.

[For a superb treatment of this phenomenon, read Chad Terhune's piece here.]

A while back I read a great essay by a health care pundit who talked of health care spending “crowding out” other forms of public investment.

Think of it this way: a government collects taxes. If it spends an increasing amount on health care goods and services each year, there is less available for education, roads, infrastructure, etc.

It may not quite be a zero sum game, but it's darn close.

This post by John H. Schumann, MD, FACP, originally appeared at GlassHospital. Dr. Schumann is a general internist. His blog, GlassHospital, seeks to bring transparency to medical practice and to improve the patient experience.