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The JAMA Forum
June 9, 2020

How Will COVID-19 Affect the Health Care Economy?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Economics and Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2020;323(22):2237-2238. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.7308

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has created an economic crisis alongside a health care crisis. During the 2 weeks ending on March 28, nearly 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance, dwarfing any previous monthly numbers. Estimates suggest that the US economy will contract by 10% to 25% during the second quarter. The US has entered a COVID-19 recession.

Historically, health care has been relatively immune from recessions. People get sick during both good and bad times, so demand for medical care is relatively constant across the business cycle. Furthermore, health insurance reduces the out-of-pocket costs for care that people face; thus, many sick people—at least those with health insurance—can still afford to visit physicians.

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