Baicker, Katherine, and Amitabh Chandra. "The Health Care Jobs Fallacy." New England Journal of Medicine 366.26 (June 28, 2012): 2433-2435.
The United States is in the throes of the most serious recession in post-war history. Despite improving employment numbers, the official unemployment rate still exceeded 8% in March 2012. Amidst this malaise, the health care sector is one of the few areas of steady growth.1 It may seem natural to think that if the health care sector is one of the bright spots in the economy,public policies should aim to foster continued growth in health care employment. Indeed, hospitals and other health care organizations point to the size of their payrolls as evidence that they play an important role in economic recovery, a role that must not be endangered by reforms that seek to reduce spending on health care. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are quick to emphasize the “job-creating” or “job-killing” aspects of reforms. But this focus on health care jobs is misguided. The goal of improving health and economic well-being does not go hand in hand with rising employment in health care. It is tempting to think that rising health care employment is a boon, but if the same outcomes can be achieved with lower employment and fewer resources, that leaves extra money to devote to other important public and private priorities such as education,infrastructure, food, shelter,and retirement savings.