The health services industry touches the lives of nearly everyone in the United States. It encompasses hospital care, physician, dental, and clinical services, prescriptions drugs, medical devices, and nursing home and home health care. These sectors generate approximately $2.7 trillion annually and provide jobs for one out of every eight American workers. That’s around 16 million jobs.
The statistics relating to the health services industry are astounding. There are more than 5,750 hospitals in the United States with around 942,000 beds. Hospitals serve nearly 36 million patients every year. This care generates about $884 billion. Meanwhile physicians and dentists bring in around $735 billion. The prescription drug industry rings up more than $367 billion, while nursing home and home health care generate $232 billion. These numbers add up to about 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States, equal to $8,608 per person.
The health services industry possesses many qualities that will contribute to long-term growth. In 2012, Medicare provided healthcare to 50.7 million Americans 65 or older. That number is expected to balloon to around 78 million by 2030. Meanwhile, Medicaid spending for low-income and disabled persons including children is expected to grow from its current level of $490 billion to $572 billion in 2023.
Of course, these numbers will present challenges for federal and state budgets, which are already strapped with today’s level of healthcare spending. But as the U.S. population ages and seniors live longer than ever, there is good news for the health services industry, according to Tony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: “When you add up the doctors and hospitals we visit, the technicians and nurses who care for us, the receptionists who check us in, the people who file our claims, mop our hospital rooms, we are talking about a huge chunk of society. The U.S. health care sector… is huge. It’s growing like crazy.”