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Health Care Workers in Michigan are Taking a Hit

The health care industry has been seen as a goldmine for students who are looking at earning a medical degree. Many people have returned to school or are earning a medical degree online to ensure employment in these tough economic times. But the health care job market is taking a hit in Michigan, where thousands of auto workers are with out jobs, and benefits.

The erosion of Michigan's gold-plated health benefits, long the envy of workers across the U.S., is accelerating the state's downward economic spiral. Years of auto-industry layoffs and benefit cuts to white-collar retirees have left hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers like Mr. Markel without employer-provided health coverage. To adapt, individuals are drawing down savings to fund their own insurance, going without treatments or tests, or leaning on an increasingly strained state. The share of Michigan residents under 65 using public insurance such as Medicaid rose to 22% last year, from 11% a decade earlier.

These cutbacks, in turn, are devastating the health-care sector. Now the state's largest employer, health-care providers have swung from profit to loss. Hopes are fading that Michigan's hospitals and clinics can offset the car industry's decline: Even as waves of former auto workers are retraining as nurses, dental hygienists and X-ray technicians, the state's hospitals are freezing expansion plans and laying off workers. Unpaid bills at the state's hospitals hit $2 billion in 2007, twice the level in 2001, and continue to grow, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Many other states however are still in need of qualified health care workers. When earning your medical degree online, you should know what sectors are lacking workers, and how your local economy may affect your ability to get a job. On the national level, health care jobs are still on the rise.


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