Longer life spans and the need for more care should increase demand in the health care industry. Technological advances make new procedures and methods of diagnosis and treatment possible. Advances in information technology improve patient care. However, cost containment and cost effectiveness are also shaping the health care industry, As a result, there is a growing emphasis on providing services on an ambulatory basis, limiting unnecessary or low-priority services and stressing preventive care.
The U.S. health care services market is worth more than $1,600 billion ($ 1,600,000,000,000). In 2006, health care costs consumed 16 percent of the gross domestic product. In 2016 the health share of the GDP is expected to increase to 19.6 percent of GDP.
As the largest industry in 2006, health care provided 14 million jobs, 13.6 million jobs for wage and salary workers and about 438,000 jobs for self-employed and unpaid family workers. Of the 13.6 million wage and salary jobs, 40 percent were in hospitals; another 21 percent were in nursing and residential care facilities; 16 percent were in offices of physicians.
About 19 percent of the health care work force are part-time workers. In offices of dentists and other health practitioners, the number of part-time workers is more than 30 percent.
Although hospitals constitute only about one percent of all health care establishments, they employ 35 percent of all workers. Others work in ambulatory health services (42 percent), and in nursing and residential care facilities (23 percent).
Health care will generate nearly three million new wage and salary jobs until 2016, seven of the fastest 20 growing occupations are health care related. Wage and salary employment is likely to increase 22 percent through 2016, compared with 11 percent for all industries combined.