NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 18, 2009

A little-noticed feature of the current recession is the role of the health care industry as a resilient driver of the general economy, says Craig S. Karpel, author of "The Retirement Myth" (HarperCollins, 1995). 

For instance:

  • Health care now accounts for 10.4 percent of nonfarm employment.
  • Health care employment grew by 19,600 jobs in July 2009, on a par with the average monthly gain for the first half of 2009, which was down from an average monthly increase of 30,000 in 2008.
  • Remarkably, these gains occurred in a period during which total employment shrank by 6.7 million.

The U.S. health care economy should be viewed not as a burden but as an engine of growth:

  • Medical and orthopedic equipment exports increased by 65.1 percent from 2004 through 2008; pharmaceutical exports were up 74.6 percent.
  • The unprecedented advances expected to come out of American stem cell, nanotechnology and human genome research -- which other countries' constricted health sectors cannot support --will send these already impressive figures skyward.

According to Deloitte LLP:

  • More than 400,000 non-U.S. residents obtained medical care in the United States in 2008, and it forecasts an annual increase of 3 percent.
  • Some 3.5 percent of inpatient procedures at U.S. hospitals were performed on international patients, many of them escaping from Canada's supposedly superior health system.

"Inbound medical tourism," Deloitte stated, "is primarily driven by the search for high-quality care without extensive waiting periods.  Foreign patients are willing to pay more for care within the United States if these two factors play a large role."  The deficiencies of the foreign health care systems the Obama administration wishes to emulate can be counted on to generate ever-increasing revenues for U.S. providers and employment for Americans.

The administration's health care plan is biased toward bean-counting rather than designed to maximize American physical and mental well-being.  We need to ask ourselves whether there is truly anything more valuable to us than our loved ones and our own health and longevity, says Karpel.

Source: Craig S. Karpel, "We Don't Spend Enough on Health Care," Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2009.

For text: 


Browse more articles on Health Issues