"So when it comes to choosing between a mortgage payment and an insurance payment, most people choose their homes."...no doubt about the truth here...and this too..."In other words, says Keckley, put the health-care industry together with a recession and there's only one likely result: "It's a mess.".....BD 

The knees always go first. And the gums. That's what hospitals, physicians, and dentists say, noting an unusual leading indicator warning them a recession is on the way. "It's a myth to think hospitals are recession-resistant," says Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst with CRT Capital Holdings. "During the 2001-2002 recession there was the lowest demand for hospital services ever."

Demand for elective procedures such as knee replacements and gum surgery invariably rises whenever people are worried about losing their jobs—and their health insurance. In fact, the accelerated pace doesn't seem to start petering until a year and a half later, when laid-off workers are no longer entitled to COBRA and similar benefits that let them pay for health coverage through their former employers. "It's an interesting countercyclical trend," says Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "I only know this anecdotally, but it's accepted wisdom in the industry."

Health Care: Not So Recession-Proof


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