Older primary care doctors can’t retire

Just when you think the primary care shortage can’t get any worse.

Not only are there not enough primary care access to serve the almost 50 million uninsured Americans, recent numbers also show that out of 270,000 primary care doctors, almost 5,000 of them are older than the age of 75.

They simply can’t retire, mainly because of an inability to find a young doctor to take their place within the community. And as we know, not only is there a wide salary disparity, younger doctors are unwilling to taken on the lifestyle that primary care demands.

Indeed, as this 72-year old physician says, “They’re not willing to be on call 24 hours a day . . . I’m a dinosaur. There’s not people willing to do that anymore.”

So this forces doctors to work well into their 80s. And when they do eventually retire, many patients will be left in a lurch, as many areas are already in dire need of primary care doctors, even before these elderly physicians hang up their stethoscopes.