Are Medical Field Careers Recession-Proof?

medical field careers

Economists predict there’s more than a 50% chance the U.S. will slide into a recession in 2023. That means unemployment could rise, retail activity may shrink, and property prices could plummet.

Based on past recessions, these factors could occur all at once, or only some of them may come into play.

Currently, unemployment levels continue to fall. So, hopefully, the job market should remain steady.

Are you concerned or simply interested in whether medical field careers will remain stable if a recession does come? Keep reading to find out.

State of the Healthcare Industry

If anything, the last series of recessions didn’t impact the healthcare industry negatively. The 1990 and 2001 recessions saw jobs in the healthcare field experience favorable growth.

Even the Great Recession saw a slight increase in healthcare jobs. So, there’s a lot of truth to the belief that medical careers are recession-proof.

Will the same apply in 2023, especially in the wake of a global healthcare disaster?

The coronavirus pandemic had an unexpectedly negative effect on the healthcare industry. At the outset, the medical sector shed over 1.4 million jobs.

The pandemic is also directly responsible for the uncertainties of the current economic climate. It’s impacted the realms of industry, construction, and real estate.

Despite the uncertainties, there are several positives in play, too.

Currently, the Baby Boomer generation is achieving retirement age.

They’re bound to need more medical care in years to come. Plus, the imminent retirement of this generation means someone will need to fill their jobs in the healthcare field.

That means, there’s a huge demand for medical professionals across the board at the moment.

People’s need for healthcare doesn’t decline in lean times.  Unfortunately, their ability to pay for it does.

As employment decreases, people start to lose their corporate-provided health care insurance. They may also grin and bear any aches and pains in favor of spending their money elsewhere.

Fortunately, significant changes in the realm of medical care may shield providers to some extent.

Buffers Against a Recession

The Affordable Care Act has significantly expanded health insurance coverage across the country. Medicaid will provide some relief for both patients and care providers in a recession.

Likewise, retiring Baby Boomers are likely to sign up for affordable Medicare insurance to ensure they’re provided for. These federal initiatives could buffer healthcare providers against unpaid bills.

New government policies allow people who lose their corporate insurance to apply for affordable alternatives. This could contribute to better stability in healthcare.

Additionally, merger and acquisition activity is booming in the industry. This is a low-risk, high-value approach, which centers on clarity about long-term strategies for surviving in troubled times.

Finally, an abundance of care facilities outside of hospitals could provide some protection. Nowadays, patients can seek cheaper care at a host of retail clinics, urgent care facilities, and virtual care providers.

In most cases, a recession doesn’t leave the healthcare field unscathed, but it does impact this industry a little later. It also takes longer for the healthcare industry to recover from a recession.

Most of the impact on the healthcare industry happens during the second year of a recession. So, it all depends on how long this looming recession lasts.

Riskiest Medical Field Careers

During a recession, those at the top of the medical field food chain suffer first. Analysts predict that doctors and hospitals could experience a 30% reduction in gross earnings during a major economic slump.

Patients may decide to postpone elective surgeries. Professionals are likely to find themselves performing emergency care on those who can’t afford to pay for it.

Payers, pharmacy benefit managers, and pharmaceutical companies can expect a 5% to 15% decrease in earnings.

As their belts tighten, employers will seek to trim down on the cost of funding healthcare insurance for their employees.

The recent 400% increase in markups over Medicare and Medicare fees for commercial payers is bound to cause debate. Providers and insurers could find themselves facing some tough conversations in contract talks.

Most other medical careers could remain unaffected by a recession, particularly as demand for healthcare workers increases.

Recession-Resistant Healthcare Jobs

Despite prevailing doom and gloom scenarios, employment is still on the upswing in the USA as normality returns. This positive growth is impacting the healthcare industry, too.

Across the board, those who opt for jobs in the medical field should have nothing to worry about if a recession comes. BLS statistics indicate rapid growth in most medical careers.

These are the health care positions with the most positive future growth prospects:

  • Nurse Practitioner – 33.7 %
  • Physical Therapist – 36 %
  • Medical Administrative Assistant – 36 %
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant – 42.6 %
  • Home Health Aide – 48.8%

All these jobs show incredible growth when compared to the average rate of 11% for all jobs.

Other rapidly expanding fields include behavioral disorders and substance abuse counselors as well as other emotional health professionals.

Of course, there will always be a high demand for physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and medical technologists, too. There’s also a high demand for jobs that didn’t even exist ten years ago. These include:

  • Care Coordinators
  • Navigators
  • Health coaches
  • Medical scribes
  • Telehealth-trained practitioners

In short, the answer to questions of healthcare jobs recession resistance remains, ‘it depends.’ Yet, the outlook is generally positive if a recession happens any time soon.

The Future Looks Bright for Medical Careers

If you’re interested in a career in medicine, currently studying, or working in this area, it’s unlikely you have much to fear from a recession.

Over time, medical field careers have survived and even shown positive growth during lean times.

Would you like some more information on things that could impact your lifestyle or career? Keep browsing our blog.

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