Vanishing Hospitals | WYPR

Vanishing Hospitals

Jan 25, 2017

Credit rweller/stock.xchng

Yesterday, we discussed the disappearance of the American mall. Today, we discuss the vanishing American hospital. According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, America is the most expensive country in the world for hospital care.

Hospital care accounts for roughly a third of the $3 trillion in annual healthcare spending in the U.S. For a variety of reasons, medical systems are under incredible pressure to slash expenses, which often means shifting activities out of hospitals to lower cost outpatient settings. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 1992, there were 4.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people in America.

By 2012, there were fewer than three hospital beds per 1,000 people. Rural facilities, which typically have lower operating margins, are the most vulnerable to closure. According to the National Rural Healthcare Association, more than 600 rural hospitals are at risk of closing because of their finances. As reported by Bloomberg, more than a quarter of them will shutter their doors in less than 10 years. Not only will this force many rural residents to travel long distances to receive healthcare, but it will result in massive job losses.