Health care economic forecast is positive

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Trends in West Michigan health care are looking good overall, according to two Grand Valley State University economic experts. Hari Singh, professor of economics in the Seidman College of Business, and Paul Isely, associate professor and chair of economics in the Seidman College of Business, shared information about the West Michigan health care economic forecast in Loosemore Auditorium January 6.

Isely said health care employment in Grand Rapids is growing at a good rate compared to the rest of the country. “Physician assistant and nursing jobs are good and getting better than projections from a year ago,” Isely said.

Isely explained that numerous factors are driving the cost of health care up, like overuse of the emergency room and uncompensated visits. He said living healthier lifestyles and encouraging better prenatal care for mothers are two main ways to bring costs down.

Singh said one of the key factors in their forecast is that health officials report that overall confidence in the health care system is high, at about 88 percent.

The event also featured area health care professionals who gave predictions for health care in 2011. Those panelists included Richard Breon, CEO of Spectrum Health; Michael Hampton, vice president for Raymond James and Associates; Dominic Siciliano, president of West Michigan Area Health Underwriters; and Susan Sevensma, director of medical education at Metro Health Hospital.

The event was sponsored by Grand Valley’s Vice Provost for Health, Seidman College of Business Alumni Association and the Alliance for Health.

DOWNLOADABLE AUDIO:

* Paul Isely said overall, the health care forecast for West Michigan in 2011 is positive (audio).

* Isely said there is an increase in the need for physician assistants and nurses in West Michigan (audio).

* Isely said many things continue to drive the cost of health care up (audio).

* Isely said one of the biggest drivers in increased cost is low birth weight babies (audio).