While many markets still struggle to reach pre-2008 levels, the news that health care insurance costs rose sharply in the US in 2011 as reported by the New York Times was not welcomed. According to the article, the high cost of insurance has deterred some companies from hiring, and increases will therefore only negatively impact unemployment levels that have yet to recover. This will likely only spur fears of a double-dip recession, which are already swirling in response to the Eurozone debt crisis. Although it's easy to imagine that the MedTech market as a whole is relatively cushioned from economic pressures after all, if you break your leg you'll do pretty much whatever's necessary to fix it the truth is that many procedures involving medical devices are elective and expensive. Co-payments are continually increasing in the US, and many Americans may therefore choose to postpone medical procedures while the economic situation is uncertain. This is further backed up by a recent article from Bloomberg stating that more people in the US were foregoing prescription drugs and medical procedures advocated by their doctors in an effort to save cash in 2011 compared to 2010.
While the fears of rising health care costs and a double-dip recession will impact most of the MedTech markets to some degree, a few markets will feel the effects more strongly than others. The dental implant market, for example, tends to be highly tied to the economy although this market shows strong growth potential, getting a new tooth is not life-or-death and procedures tend to be delayed in uncertain financial times. Although less obviously elective, the spinal implant market will likely also be negatively affected insurance has become increasingly difficult to receive in recent years and some patients may therefore choose to simply tolerate back pain until the situation improves. Interestingly enough, MRG noted that demand for facial injectable procedures has been showing more resilience despite the fact that looking pretty is rarely deemed medically necessary; the facial injectable market was one of the first to recover from the recession because some people felt that a younger-looking face might improve their chances while on the hunt for jobs. Whether this trend will continue in another uncertain economic climate so soon in the wake of the 2008 recession has yet to be seen, however.