Healthcare represents nearly 20% of the GDP in the U.S. on an annual basis and continues to grow. At approximately $4.5 trillion, it is a true juggernaut that has major ripple effects throughout the national economy. So much so that the government will be infusing a near-equivalent amount of funding ($4-5 trillion) in an effort prop up the economy.
While it may sound a bit strange, the healthcare industry is running at less than 50% of its normal operating thresholds due to the pause in elective procedures and dramatic reduction in certain clinic functions as it does its part to “flatten the curve”. Concomitantly, medical supply expenses and extra staffing premiums in preparation for the potential influx of patients requiring isolation and pulmonary support are soaring.
There may be broad speculation as to what this will portend for healthcare providers going forward. Clearly, the ability of hospitals, nursing facilities, health centers, and other providers to recover from this financial debacle will vary widely. The “new normal” will be much different for many providers and, for some, the future may be very bleak.
Will we learn from this experience? Will we put in place the necessary procedures, protocols and stockpiles of needed supplies based upon this pandemic to more effectively address a future crisis? Will the CDC and NIH be given the necessary resources to get out in front of these outbreaks and be able to develop treatments and vaccines to help keep our economy from shutting down?
Since President Bush (43) presented a disaster preparedness plan back in 2009, there has been little accomplished on this front. Could it be that if we had spent $100 billion per year over the last 10 years ($1 trillion) on disaster preparedness that we could have avoided spending $4 trillion in 2020? WHO knows!!? What I do know is that it would have immediately “flattened the curve”.