The Future of Healthcare: A Surge in Spending and the Potential Impact of a Recession

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Aug 07, 2023

4 min read


The Future of Healthcare: A Surge in Spending and the Potential Impact of a Recession


The healthcare industry in the United States is poised for significant changes in the coming years. With projections of Medicare spending on the rise and the possibility of a recession on the horizon, the landscape of healthcare expenditures and employment patterns may undergo substantial transformations. In this article, we will explore the forecasted surge in healthcare spending, the potential benefits a recession could bring to struggling providers, and the implications for the industry as a whole.

Medicare Surge and the Growth of Healthcare Spending:

According to federal actuaries, a surge in Medicare spending is expected to drive healthcare expenditures past $7.2 trillion by 2031. This increase in spending will outpace inflation and account for 19.6% of the gross domestic product. The estimates from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary indicate that the highest growth in hospital spending will be experienced by Medicare, ranging from 7.8% to 8.1% annually from 2025 to 2029. This surge can be attributed to the aging baby boomer population enrolling in the program. It is worth noting the recent selloff in the healthcare industry following the announcement of high utilization by UnitedHealth Group, which adds an interesting perspective to the projected growth.

The Potential Impact of a Recession on Healthcare:

While recession fears for 2023 may be waning, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York projects a 71% chance of a recession by May 2024. The healthcare industry could experience both positive and negative ramifications in the event of an economic downturn. On one hand, a recession could slow down the exorbitant wage increases in healthcare, particularly as demand decreases for expensive contract labor. Lower-skilled employees from struggling industries, such as the hotel, hospitality, and restaurant sectors, may turn to healthcare for employment opportunities. For instance, entry-level workers in food service or housekeeping may find work in healthcare as other industries falter. This shift in the labor market could provide much-needed support for the healthcare sector.

The Potential Benefits and Challenges for Healthcare Providers:

While a recession may bring certain benefits to struggling healthcare providers, not all organizations will be able to reap the silver lining. Over the past year, numerous healthcare organizations have laid off employees as they undergo restructuring, cost-cutting measures, and adjustments to new care delivery models. For instance, Allina Health recently announced layoffs of fewer than 350 employees, primarily in leadership and non-direct caregiving roles, due to unprecedented financial challenges. Similarly, Prisma Health in South Carolina will be laying off nearly 700 employees following a partnership announcement with Compass One Healthcare. These examples highlight the challenges faced by healthcare providers as they navigate the changing landscape of the industry.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Diversify Revenue Streams: Healthcare providers should explore opportunities to diversify their revenue streams to mitigate the impact of potential economic downturns. By expanding services or exploring partnerships, organizations can reduce their reliance on a single source of income.
  • 2. Invest in Workforce Development: As lower-skilled workers seek employment in the healthcare sector during a recession, organizations should prioritize workforce development and training programs. By investing in their employees' skills and knowledge, healthcare providers can ensure high-quality care and create opportunities for career advancement.
  • 3. Embrace Technology and Innovation: The integration of technology and innovation in healthcare can lead to cost savings and improved patient outcomes. By adopting digital health solutions, telemedicine, and data analytics, providers can optimize their operations and enhance the efficiency of care delivery.


The future of healthcare in the United States is marked by a surge in spending driven by Medicare, as well as the potential impact of a recession on the industry. While healthcare expenditures are projected to rise significantly, a recession could bring benefits to struggling providers by slowing wage increases and attracting workers from other industries. However, challenges remain for healthcare organizations as they navigate financial constraints and adjust to new care delivery models. By diversifying revenue streams, investing in workforce development, and embracing technology and innovation, providers can adapt to the changing landscape and ensure the delivery of high-quality care in the face of these challenges.

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