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These guys put the ‘care’ in health care

April 3, 2008 | Getting sick,Health

Still no photos, so here’s a lovely video for your viewing and listening pleasure. It’s the song that plays in my head whenever someone tells me they have “walking pneumonia.”

According to The Wall Street Journal today, the longer you stay well, the more it hurts companies’ bottom line. Shame on you.

Kimberly-Clark execs apparently had to use their tissues to wipe their own tears after a fourth-quarter drop in sales last year — all because you failed to get sick.

Companies were worried for a while, though, telling shareholders to do their part.

In January, Walgreen Co. CEO Jeffrey Rein told a shareholder gathering that December marked the first time in his 25-year career at the company that cough- and cold-medicine sales fell during the month. If attendees of the meeting needed to cough, he joked, they should leave the room and “go to a movie theater or on a bus” to spread their germs. “We’re really hoping for a very strong flu season,” Mr. Rein told the crowd, according to a transcript of his presentation.

Sweet, huh?

Procter & Gamble Co.said on a conference call in January that quarterly sales of its Vicks cold medicine had been weak. “Unfortunately, people have not been getting sick at a rate that we would all like yet,” P&G CEO A.G. Lafley said on the call, with a chuckle.

Yeah, that is pretty funny.

Hospitals also rode the roller coaster of this flu season. Sicker patients often bring higher reimbursement from insurers or the government, and the flu can cause pneumonia and other complications. “You have a strong flu season, and the ancillary business is very profitable,” David Dill, chief financial officer of LifePoint Hospitals Inc., explained to investors at a conference in January. If an elderly flu sufferer in intensive care needs a tracheotomy, “that turns into higher acuity business for us,” he said. “Or, on the pediatric side, young kids coming into the hospital, that’s a nice margin for us, as well.”

He’s talking about Grandma’s tracheotomy and Baby Jenny’s hospital stay. I bet Grandma would tell you how proud she is of helpingĀ that “nice margin,” but, well, she’s got that trach, you know …

“Of course 36,000 die from the flu every year, and more than 200,000 go to the hospital for it. The flu apparently accounts for $16.3 billion in lost earnings every year.”

Oops. How did that get in there?

Anyway. Here’s where you can find the article, “Flu Economy Takes Unexpected Turn.”

Posted by Becky @ 3:31 pm  

One Response to “These guys put the ‘care’ in health care”

  1. Daisy Says:

    The biggest economic impact when I get the flu is the money paid out for my substitute teachers. And maybe the extra tissue I ask parents to send in when their precious darlings keep getting sicker and sicker but still attend school, which leads to the teachers getting sick, and yada yada yada.

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