The Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen

Side Note: It is well known that there is a doctor shortage in this country. And, there are many factors on the horizon that indicate it will only get worse. First, there is a growing underserved population: baby boomers. A baby boomer turns 65 every 8 seconds and becomes eligible for Medicare –a group that less and less physicians can afford to serve. Second, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect in 2014, an additional 32 million patients will flood the health care system who previously had only very limited access. Another underserved population is individuals living in rural areas due to more lucrative and well-established infrastructures and the general appeal of larger towns and cities to graduating physicians. In addition, there is still a disproportionately low number of minority physicians, despite the percentage of minorities growing in this country, possibly due to the low numbers of physicians in their communities. All of this contributes to the AMA’s forecast of “…a deficiency of at least 125,000 physicians by 2025.” This does not bode well for physicians who are already being asked to do more in less time, for less money, and face growing med mal concerns in our increasingly litigious society.

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Facing shortage, we can’t just pull doctors out of a hat
AMA Leader Commentary. By Cecil B. Wilson, MD, Posted Jan. 10, 2011.

It has begun. In the first dozen days of this new year, more than 120,000 baby boomers have: a) turned 65 (at a rate of one every eight seconds); b) become Medicare eligible; and c) joined the list of people who may have difficulties in accessing a physician.

This is not a surprise, of course, but I hope that the oft-repeated statistic will force our nation and our government to face the harsh reality of America’s current physician shortage, our growing underserved populations, and the dismal issue of access for those newly insured after 2014 under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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