Healthcare Watch: Cost Growth Is Decreasing, But Employment Growth Remains Steady

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Tyler Cowen directs our attention to the chart on the right. It shows that the growth of healthcare costs is indeed slowing down, but the growth of healthcare employment has been rock steady. How can this be?

There are a few theories. Maybe only lower-paying jobs are growing. Or perhaps wages are falling. Or maybe hours are being cut back. Apparently, though, none of those things seems to be true. “Economists still have more questions than answers,” says Dan Diamond of The Advisory Board Company.

For what it’s worth, I think the correct metric is per-capita health expenditures, and on this measure employment has been growing at about 1 percent per year, while overall costs have been growing at about 3 percent per year in recent years. This is a little easier to believe, since it puts a lower floor on things. If we’re being a bit more careful about diagnostic tests and generic drugs and end-of-life treatment, it’s not hard to see how these trends could converge over time.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest