3B Analysis: Price Gouging by Nurse Staffing Agencies — an Immoral Opportunity?

3B Onboarding
3 min readFeb 15, 2022


It seems as if almost everything we talk about nowadays is in some way related to Covid-19. What seemed to be “just another flu” a couple of years back, turned out to be a virus, which threw the world into a pandemic with massive impact not only on millions of people, but also on the worldwide economy. In the article Prices on the Rise How Inflation Affects the Recruitment Industry we have already examined how the unrestrained printing of money lead us to the current inflation levels, as well as the effects over the recruitment sector.

Today’s article makes no exception and we will focus on how nurse staffing agencies are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 200 House members are urging White House COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator Jeffrey Zients to take measures against the unprecedented rates.

“The situation is urgent and the reliance on temporary workers has caused normal staffing costs to balloon in all areas of the country. We have received reports that the nurse staffing agencies are vastly inflating price, by two, three or more times pre-pandemic rates, and then taking 40% or more of the amount being charged to the hospitals for themselves in profits” the representatives said in a letter initiated by Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Morgan Griffith, R-Va.

Whether the moves by staffing agencies violate any consumer protection laws is still under a question. On one hand you have capitalism at its finest — a business sector finding itself in the favorable (and even somewhat “lucky”) situation in which high demand cannot be met with sufficient supply, leading to bidding wars. It’s great for the companies involved, but not so much for the morale of the nation and the people impacted by this change, which as always is the tax-payer.

Just like a spiral, one problem leads to another. The high number of Covid-19 cases for over two years now has left the healthcare workforce burned-out. So, not only is the high demand for medical professionals not met, but we also have a case of healthcare staff dropping out due to change of profession or early retirement.

According to the Mercer report California and New York are expected to suffer the greatest hits, with each of the two states projected to lose half a million healthcare professionals by 2026. This opens an opportunity for staffing agencies to exploit, since these states will more than likely start looking at recruiting nationally, in particular from states like Georgia or Florida, where demand for these workers is not growing at such a high rate.

Whether the staffing agencies are allegedly “exploiting the desperate need for healthcare personnel” is not what we should focus on. Sure, from a moral standpoint it feels wrong, but successful businesses are before anything else efficient, and part of this efficiency is exploiting opportunities.

There’s a beautiful statement made by Jeremy Irons in the movie “Margin Call”, where in a heated argument with Kevin Spacey he says “We are selling to willing buyers at the current fair market price”. The market is an efficient beast and sooner or later a price correction is due, either as a result of buyers lowering their bids or Congress intervening, but until then, you as a staffing agency should (or at the very least can) take advantage of this short-term, high-return opportunity.

At 3B Onboarding we have always been enthusiastic about supporting successful organizations and helping them exceed even more. Our onboarding, vetting and compliance solution is one of a kind, state-of-the-art product that has the power to transform your business. We know this may sound like a very pompous statement, but trust us, if anything, we are even being modest. If you are not sure about that, you can always book a demo and let us show you just how deep does the rabbit hole go.



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