Will the doctor shortage impede universal care?

The answer is yes, but that won’t stop the blind drive to cover the uninsured.

The AAMC came out with a report quantifying the shortage, and the numbers are not good. The demand for physicians will grow by 26.3 percent from 2006 through 2025, with the situation (not surprisingly) most acute in primary care.

Also worth noting is that inpatient care will be the setting of “greatest need,” which makes some sense as the elderly are the greatest utilizers of hospital care.

If universal care were enacted, “overall demand for physicians would go up by 4%, which would increase the shortfall by 25%, or an extra 31,000 physicians.”

How will this affect patients? The usual suspects are listed, including longer appointment waiting times, increased travel distances, shorter visit times, expanded use of mid-levels, and higher prices.

As I mentioned earlier, don’t look for NPs and PAs to make up the shortfall. There aren’t enough of them either.

It seems like a no-brainer to solve the delivery-side problems first before expanding coverage.

topics: shortage, universal coverage

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