Missouri’s hospitals clearly are a mainstay of the state’s economy. In communities large and small, urban and rural, residents rely on hospitals for much more than medical care. During the extensive statewide job losses of the last year, hospital employment bucked the trend, adding new jobs. The trend shows every sign of continuing, with increasing demand for health care services making selected health care jobs some of the state’s fastest-growing occupations.
The National Center for Rural Health Works has researched the link between health care and economic viability. It found that one primary care physician working in a rural area generates $1.2 million in annual revenue and creates 23 jobs. Conversely, the loss of one half-time doctor translates into a community loss of more than a half-million dollars and 14 jobs.
Missouri’s 153 hospitals employ 114,000 full-time equivalent employees — 4.5 percent of Missouri’s total employment. Every hospital job in Missouri supports two more. In 2008, Missouri hospitals’ payroll and benefits totaled $7.1 billion. When hospital payroll is multiplied2 to project its aggregate effect on the economy, it has an additional economic benefit of $5.8 billion — a total of $12.9 billion for Missouri’s hospital payroll and benefits alone.
Researchers also have found a direct link between the availability of health care services and economic development. When companies are looking to locate their businesses in a community, a major consideration is access to quality health care.
Hospitals have been one of the few employers in Missouri generating new jobs during the current economic downturn. They have been an important stabilizing force during this time of uncertainty. Meanwhile, the outlook for workers seeking health care jobs is bright.
Of the 20 occupations in Missouri with the most openings from 2008-2010, health care accounted for 37.3 percent. By 2016, a 12.3 percent increase in the health care workforce is projected statewide.5 As the population ages, the need for health care services increases, and those services must be delivered by trained health care professionals.
Working together and individually, Missouri’s hospitals will continue to add value to the state’s economy through significant contributions in its future economic, social and health care needs. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 Missourians will be newly insured under the health care reform law. To care for them will require significant hospital investment in capital and workforce. Opportunities currently being pursued include pending grant funding that potentially could bring tens of millions of dollars to Missouri, investments in health information technology and continuing contributions to building a robust health care workforce.
The economy of Missouri depends on Missouri hospitals.