The U.S. faces a doctor shortage
posted at 1:21 pm on November 5, 2013 by Bruce McQuain
Even if you manage to finally enroll in ObamaCare and get your subsidized health insurance, you have no guarantee of seeing a doctor. And that problem is going to be exacerbated in the coming years as a shortage of physicians continues to grow according to projections:
This fall, millions of uninsured Americans seeking health insurance, many for the first time, overwhelmed the unprepared federal website, still under repair, built to give it to them. Next year, the same people, all heading to hospitals and physicians’ offices ready to make use of their new coverage, could crash something more tangible: the U.S. health care system itself.
America is running out of doctors, and next year’s influx of patients will strain the current supply. The nation will be 91,500 physicians short by 2020, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. By 2025, that number is expected to swell to more than 130,600.
Next year, the demand will be highest for primary-care physicians, such as general internists, family doctors, and pediatricians—the kinds of doctors many people go to first for nonemergency medical attention before seeing specialists. Last winter, an Annals of Family Medicine study predicted the country will need 52,000 more primary-care physicians by 2025.
Of course, primary care physicians are the gate-keepers who are responsible for referring patients to specialists if needed. They also, as the name implies, provide primary care to their patients. No primary care doctor, no primary care and certainly no referrals to specialists. With fewer and fewer primary care doctors and more and more insured, the likelihood that primary care doctors will be accepting new patients declines.
More and more of the brightest and best are looking at the medical profession and deciding to go elsewhere. And more and more of the medical workforce is foreign-born and foreign-trained according to POLITICO:
A quarter of the U.S. physician workforce is foreign-educated, according to a new RAND Corp. study, which found that the country relies on foreign-born and foreign-trained medical professionals but doesn’t have a long-term plan in place. “There is no cohesive national policy that outlines a strategy for how to incorporate foreign-born and foreign-trained health professionals into the U.S. workforce,” said Dr. Peggy G. Chen, the study’s lead author. Researchers concluded that foreign-born registered nurses make up 12 to 15 percent of the U.S. RN workforce and that foreign-born nursing and home health aides constitute a quarter of the direct care workforce.
So while, according to the New York Times, we ought to be celebrating millions getting access to “free heath insurance” – even while knowing nothing the government gives you is “free” – it really won’t matter if you can’t find a doctor.
The same as before ObamaCare: Crowded ERs and interminable waits for treatment.