In debates involving health care, you often hear it referred to as one of the biggest businesses in America, and Census Bureau figures bear that out for the Kansas City area.
The Economic Census the bureau conducts every five years has one big category for health care and social assistance “establishments” — everything from doctors’ and therapists’ offices to nursing homes and day care services.
In the five-county metro area — Johnson, Wyandotte, Jackson, Clay and Platte — that megacategory embraces:
▪ 4,853 establishments, including nearly 1,000 doctors’ offices, 800 dental practices, 38 hospitals, 100 medical and diagnostic labs, eight blood and organ banks, 335 nursing and residential care homes (not including retirement homes with assisted living) and 435 child day care locations.
▪ More than $14 billion in annual receipts, around $8,000 per area resident.
▪ Nearly 122,000 paid employees and annual payrolls topping $5.6 billion.
Big business. And like other businesses The Star has looked at in the retail, financial and restaurant and hotel sectors, affluent Johnson County has a hefty share of medical offices, clinics and day care centers, and lower-income Wyandotte County does not.
On the Missouri side, Jackson County reigns, even after adjusting for population, in part because of its clusters of long-established medical centers and practices. For example, Jackson County has 20 of the five counties’ 36 total kidney dialysis centers; 90 of its 173 home health care services; and 18 of its 38 hospitals.
But the numbers also point out some of the differences between health care and other sectors, such as the big role government can play, and the influence a few big institutions can have. Wyandotte County, because of its low population and the presence of the University of Kansas Medical Center and KU Hospital, fares well in the number of health care and social assistance jobs per 1,000 residents, and in the average payroll those jobs generate.