For years, health care topped every list of recession-proof businesses. The logic is that people continue to get sick, even in bad economic times. But does that automatically translate into profits for the entire health care sector? Let's take a closer look.
One profession that everyone agrees is in high demand is nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there will be 587,000 new jobs created in the nursing profession between 2006 and 2016. That's the largest growth among all jobs in the United States.
The interesting thing to note about nursing is that the huge demand for qualified nurses isn't fueled by traditional health care providers, namely hospitals. In fact, hospitals suffer during recessions when people forgo elective surgeries and preventative procedures. The 2001-2002 recession signaled the lowest demand for hospital care on record [source: Arnst].
As the Baby Boomer population ages, we need more nurses because there's a greater demand for home health care services and specialized medical procedures that are performed in smaller outpatient clinics and doctor's offices [source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]. Nurses will take on an increasingly important role as medical care moves away from centralized hospitals and into patients' homes.
In the 2007-2009 recession, hospitals and doctors expected to actually lose revenue as the number of Americans without health insurance was expected to swell to 15 million [source: Arnst]. No insurance means that people will skimp on preventative care and wait until there's a medical emergency like a heart attack. At that point the hospital must perform an expensive procedure like open-heart surgery -- a bill that the patient likely can't afford.