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Ways the 2012 “Apocalypse” Might Affect Healthcare

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Scoff if you will at the tin-foil-hat-wearing doomsday-observers as emergency kits and inhibitions go flying off the shelves, but – assuming you’re not running for the hills as well – your workplace may soon be affected by the so-called “end of the world” on December 21, 2012.

Of course, just like Y2K, all the polar-flips, rogue phantom planets, solar storms (which will flare up soon as part of a regular 11-year cycle) and the end of the Mayan calendar (it’s actually just the end of the current Mayan calendar before the next one kicks in) are unlikely to result in anything beyond an unusually paranoid winter solstice this year.

But that may not stop the American public at-large from throwing the usual pace of healthcare use for a loop, come “apocalypse” time.

Here are a few ways “the end of the world” could affect healthcare in the U.S.:

Fewer people may use the system
“Why bother?” folks may think: According to poll in Newsweek, about 40% of Americans think the world will end as the Bible predicts – fair enough – but may of those people believe the end is nigh (and nigher than we might think.)

Between 2000 and 2010/11, that number remained around 40%. This doesn’t mean all 40% believe the world will end on Dec 21, and a Fox News pundit recently estimated this number to be closer to “thousands and thousands” – less than a fraction of a per cent of the U.S. population.

But let’s say that number rises the closer we get to the date and let’s split the difference to about 20%. Could up to 1/5 of Americans who require non-urgent healthcare (let’s say 1/6, factoring-in the number without medical insurance) decide it’s not worth seeing a doctor in the event of an impending apocalypse?

More people may need the system
On the flip side, perhaps there will be a number of people putting-off health care because they think they won’t need it before the end of the world. And perhaps that number might offset (and then some) the number of people who find they need access to medical care after doing something risky in anticipation of the total lack of consequences that December 21, 2012 would bring…in their minds.

(Who would have thought that “I’m the king of the wooorld!” moment on December 20 would have required a doctor to mend that broken collarbone that wasn’t rendered fixed by the rapture?)

Miracle cures and more…
Even scarier, people may require medical care after doing/ingesting/partaking in 2012 “miracle” 2012 “cures” they may believe will save them from any doomsday fate they’re afraid of. (This is a far less likely scenario, but one we’ll include here nonetheless – More than a few people took “comet” elixirs in 1910 that ranged from harmless to semi-harmful in anticipation of the close pass that year of the tail of Halley’s comet.)

Swamped with FAQs
Doctors and other medical professionals will likely need to field thousands of questions about the coming “doomsday” (much like NASA and other perceived “experts” on the Mayan calendar ; )

It would likely be time-well-spent to set up a FAQ in time for an influx of such questions as we get closer and closer to December 21, 2012:

A date we’ll almost certainly remember for many hellfire-free years to come.

Contributor Tera Rowland

Tera Rowland is the vice president of Soliant and has worked in the healthcare staffing industry for almost 20 years in public relations, social media, marketing and operations. In addition to Soliant, Tera worked at the Mayo Clinic as an internal communication manager and for the Children’s Miracle Network. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and the American Staffing Association. Also, Tera has served on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Women’s Leadership Forum as part of the communication committee. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations as well as a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of North Florida and has been published in the Huffington Post, Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare Traveler Magazine, and Scrubs Magazine. Make sure to read the rest of Tera's blogs!