The Economic Contributions of Health Care to New England

Feb 01, 2003

For the past few decades, the health care sector has been among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. The industry ranges from health services, such as health practitioners and hospitals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, medical instruments and supplies, medical service and health insurance to research and testing services where much of the burgeoning biotechnology sector is recorded.

According to this new study, commissioned by the New England Healthcare Institute, New England and the Middle Atlantic states are the only regions in the U.S. to have a substantially higher than average proportion of health care industries contributing to their gross regional product. Health care directly comprises 7.5 percent of New England's GRP (the total economic value of goods and services produced in a region) based on 2001 figures, leaving the region's GRP almost 10 percent more concentrated in health care than in the nation as a whole. These figures understate the ultimate contribution to New England as its effects ripple throughout the rest of the regional economy.

Based upon our Health Pole Index the Boston metro area is the leading health care center. The Health Pole concept can be thought of as a measure of the spatial density and diversity of health care sectors in a metropolitan economy and placed in a national perspective. This report represents the first unveiling of health pole statistics.

These comparisons all depict New England as a major force in the U.S. health care industry; however, New England is not fully leveraging the vast innovation capacities and diversity of its health care sectors for maximum economic benefit for the region. Warning signs on the health care industry's future should not be ignored.

For more information, visit the New England Healthcare Institute web site.