The Great Recession

Coming Soon, North Shore University Health Systems Medical Office Building.

For me, this is sad news. I am not saddened that North Shore University Health is opening yet another medical office building. It is where they are opening that gets me. They are taking over a two story building that used to house a Border’s Bookstore. My Border’s Bookstore. Sure, Border’s may have been a bit corporate, but this was still a great bookstore. They sold best sellers there, of course, but they also carried all the classics and lots of eccentric titles. Heck, they even briefly carried one of my own books! They had a vast selection of books about military history and an amazing travel section. My wife lost herself for hours in gardening and my sons ogled the aisles of mystery and fantasy novels. Border’s also had vast CD and DVD departments (with classical CDs and Criterion Collection movies) and the café sold a chocolate bundt cake that was out of this world. Maybe best of all, the building had an odd layout with lots of nooks and crannies and surprises around the corner. For a corporate bookstore, it oozed charm. Medical office buildings never ooze charm.

Continue reading “A Sign of the Times”

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The Great Recession has achieved what 20 years of policy machinations in Washington could not. For the second straight year, the world’s most expensive health-care system did not gobble up a greater share of the nation’s economy. In fact, health care grew at a slightly slower pace.

Health spending rose just 3.9 percent to $2.59 trillion in 2010, only one-tenth of a percentage point faster than the previous year. That was slightly below the 4.2 percent nominal growth in gross domestic product (GDP), which means health care stayed at 17.9 of the total economy, no different than the prior year.

This represents the third straight year of markedly slower growth in health-care spending, compared to the prior decade. Health care was 13.8 percent of GDP in 2000 and 12.5 percent in 1990.

The lingering effects of the U.S. economic slowdown were largely responsible for a slower growth of health-care consumption, economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. Cash-strapped consumers postponed elective surgeries, put off doctor visits and switched to generic drugs to hold down out-of-pocket costs, which grew just 1.8 percent in 2010.

The economic downturn “caused many people to lose employer-sponsored health insurance and people cut back on their use of care,” said Anne B. Martin, an economist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Continue reading “Recession Drives Lower Health Spending”

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