Physician Shortages and the Affordable Care Act
- Wed, 8/1/12 - 12:42pm
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With the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), an issue that many in the healthcare industry have been grappling with for the past few years has been receiving more national attention: who will care for all the people gaining health insurance?
On Sunday, the New York Times published a front page article examing physician shortages. Even if Republicans are successful at repealing the ACA, worries remain that there will not be enough doctors in the coming years.
At the Spring Managed Care Forum in April 2011, a speaker noted there was a shortage of 16,000 primary care physicians in 2010, which is expected to increase to 125,000 by 2025, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The Times noted that there would still be more than 100,000 fewer doctors than needed in 2025 even if the ACA does not get implemented.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 32 million more people in the United States will have insurance in 2014 thanks to the ACA. Approximately half will enroll in Medicaid, and the other half will purchase insurance on exchanges, or online marketplaces where they can compare plans and their costs and benefits.
The AAMC noted more medical students are choosing to become specialty doctors instead of entering primary care, mainly because the salaries for primary care are much lower. According to an AAMC report, the number of medical school graduates in the United States choosing family medicine fell 27% between 2002 and 2007. The Times cited a report from the Medical Group Management Association that said primary care doctors on average earned approximately $200,000 per year compared with more than $400,000 for specialty care physicians.
The New York Times article is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/health/policy/too-few-doctors-in-many-...
The Week had an overview of the issue at http://theweek.com/article/index/231267/is-america-running-out-of-doctors
Read more from the AAMC at https://www.aamc.org/newsroom/presskits/physician_workforce/
Salary information can be found at http://www.mgma.com/blog/Highlights-of-MGMAs-2011-Physician-Compensation...