Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For-Profit Schools: health care production disconnect with demand

A recent Center for American Progress report called Profiting from Health Care recently asked if for-profit schools providing relief in health care shortage areas? And the answer is: not really.

The facts:
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 3.2 million new health care jobs from 2009-2018
  • Obamacare will require even more health care professionals to care for the additional 32 million Americans who will receive coverage
  • Main need is in the practitioner or technologist field like registered nursing, medicine or diagnostic technician
For profit schools health care professional production:
  • 78% of the estimated 250,000 health care credentials awarded by for-profits last year were certificate or associate degrees and below
  • 88% of all medical/clinical assistants produced in this country were from for-profit schools
  • 10% of all health related completions at for-profits were massage therapists
  • Only 7% of all nurses came from for-profits
For profits are not really helping - only modest contribution towards the skilled health care professional shortage and producing a surplus of massage therapists, medical billing and medical assistants. 
  • Those graduating as an assistant / massage therapist are going to have a hard time paying off those student loans with an average cost for certificates of over $12,800
There is a disconnect between demand at the employer level and demand at the student level.  Gainful employment might help but it is doubtful and the study leaves some questions.  For instance, the certificates and degrees people are gravitating to are easier than those that are needed.  Is this a statement that these students are not prepared for more rigorous programs? 

An educated consumer is the only true way to combat the disconnect - no one is going to take out $12K in loans to go into massage therapy if there are no jobs.  Restricting student loans to high needs areas would pretty much solve the problem as well.  Until then, maybe massage prices will go way down.