Following the unforeseen win of the presidential election by Donald Trump, what does this mean for hospitals, healthcare insurers and healthcare workers? The initial reaction by the stock market was to hammer “for-profit” hospitals hard. At one stage HCA and Tenet Healthcare were both down 30%. Tenet recovered to a 25% loss on the day, and HCA took a 10% haircut on its’ stock price. This was fostered by the overwhelming belief in Wall Street Banks that Tr
ump will undo Obamacare. The result of which will mean millions of ordinary Americans without insurance coverage, unable to pay for expensive surgeries, and/or hospital visits.
This may yet turn out to be true. But, what was missed in that calculation was that of the approximate 15 million people currently signed up to some form of Obamacare, 58+% are Republican voters. 74% of which like their healthcare coverage. Many of these people might be seriously aggravated by the immediate loss of their healthcare coverage. This would be a bold and audacious move by any newly elected politician to undermine their own core constituency.
What Donald actually said is that he intends to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something
better. One thing for sure is that healthcare insurance, hospitals, doctors and patients have a hugely complex and intertwined relationship that is not easily replaced “by something better or cheaper” overnight. According to Mike McCullough, Healthcare Insurance Adviser for Orange Coast Financial Group, “It will likely be years, before any new legislation can be drawn up, analyzed, tested, and put before the House and Senate (to tear apart)”. The general consensus is that it would take a minimum of 2 years to have even a basic proposal before the legislator. A more enlightened position is that the best case scenario for a replacement would be 4 years. This would be the last year of Donald’s initial term. Therefore, it had better be brilliantly received, or the fall out consequences could be felt rapidly.
Whilst people may not like or wholly agree with all the rules and regulations in Obamacare, what could be done that is sweepingly different for the basic premise of insurance access for all (other than no insurance and disgruntled voters, or some kind of similar insurance exchange)? The only other alternative, currently adopted by 90% of the Western Economy nations throughout the world is a federally run, national healthcare system, or Single Payer, as it is frequently known. Whilst the majority of both Democrats (81%) and Republicans (63%) now favor this option, this is not a choice the new president-elect is likely to offer the people of America – even if it were vastly cheaper, and more efficient than that of the present system.
The odds of significant change in the demand for hospital services in the short term are slim. Therefore, do not panic. Our hospital systems and healthcare jobs should be secure, at least for the present. Healthcare and hospital expenditure accounts for 17.5% of every dollar spent in the US. Change can only come slowly, unless the political establishment wish to start their tenure with political suicide, and launch themselves hara-kiri style on the collective knives of some 8,700,000 of their own voters. In fact, it might be a shrewd idea to re-evaluate some of that for-profit hospital stock. Wall Street may have gotten this one wrong.
Written by Michael Williams, CEO, Global Healthcare IT. GHIT is a specialist provider of all types of healthcare IT Consultants and staff.
Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org