Preparing for an influenza pandemic could cost $5 billion in aggregate for the 5,000 general hospitals across the country, a report from Trust for Americas Health concluded.
The report estimated that the preparation costs could average $1 million per hospital. This could strain an already troubled industry, as 30% of hospitals are already losing money, and many do not have more than a few weeks of cash on hand, the group reported.
In the event of a pandemic, hospitals would be overrun, and routine services such as doctors visits would likely be cut back, said Misha Segal, a consultant to the trust and lead author of the report. Healthcare was one of 20 industry sectors analyzed in the report, Pandemic Flu and the Potential for U.S. Economic Recession, which provided a state-by-state overview of the economic impact of a large scale flu outbreak.
Researchers estimated a severe pandemic flu outbreak could result in the second worst recession in the U.S. since World War II, although the healthcare industry as whole could see an increase in its goods and services provided, due to increased hospital admissions and a demand for masks, ventilators and vaccines. -- by Jennifer Lubell