No Cure for the Doctor Shortage

 

In the recent article, Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law, Published July 28, 2012 by The New York Times, there is a projection given of how the new health care law will impact the already critical doctor shortage in many underserved areas around the country.  Nationally, where fewer than half of primary care providers are accepting new Medicaid patients, the additional individuals added to the strained system will create a disaster that is only expected to get worse.

 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2015, the United States will have roughly 63,000 fewer doctors than needed and by 2025, that number is expected to nearly double.  Some of the reasons for the shortage given were; unattractiveness of certain housing markets due to high unemployment in some regions, the aging of the general population creating a higher need for services and a trend of medical students to choose to become specialists rather than primary care physicians given the higher compensation.

 

Given roughly a decade required to properly train a doctor, there is little that will be able to be done to close that massive gap by 2014. The growing doctor shortage is often referred to as an “invisible problem” because patients are still being seen and cared for, but the process is becoming slower and more inefficient.  More people driving longer distances, greater use of the Emergency Room and delaying or forgoing care results in higher levels of acuity, further driving up the cost of healthcare.

 

Without some radical changes to how individuals access healthcare when needed and not when the severity worsens, the supply of primary care physicians cannot possibly keep pace with the increased demand.

 

For additional information on solutions for your employee population please visit www.richmanknoll.com or contact Kathleen Schneider at kschneider@richmanknoll.com or at 888-305-1924.