A Jobless Recovery Will Prolong Physician Financial Woes

Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Media , October 8, 2009

But an improving economy doesn't mean physician financial woes will end soon. The underlying factors that have hurt medical groups are unemployment and strains on safety net programs, and those may actually get worse as the rest of the economy improves. Economists are predicting a jobless recovery initially; unemployment may climb past 10% while the rest of the economy rebounds. That means more patients losing their insurance or migrating to already bloated Medicaid rolls, and possibly further reimbursement cuts. And it means more revenue struggles for medical groups.

The old conventional wisdom that said healthcare is recession proof has been soundly dispelled by the current downturn. The new conventional wisdom is that healthcare is one of the last sectors to be affected by a recession, but also one of the last to recover.

It's still too early to tell if there's any wisdom in that.

Editor's note: Next week I will be at the MGMA annual conference in Denver. Look me up if you're attending, or follow my coverage at www.healthleadersmedia.com or www.twitter.com/ElyasBakhtiari.

Note: You can sign up to receive HealthLeaders Media PhysicianLeaders, a free weekly e-newsletter that features the top physician business headlines of the week from leading news sources.

Elyas Bakhtiari is a freelance editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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