In a few years, every American will be required to have health insurance. As a result, the 32 million people currently uninsured will seek out a personal physician. This role typically is filled by a primary care doctor, like an internist or a family physician.
While passage of the healthcare reform bill affirmed the belief that having health insurance is a right rather than a privilege, the legislation falls short on building a healthcare system capable of absorbing the newly insured.
Universal healthcare coverage is not the same as providing universal access to medical care. Having an insurance card doesn’t guarantee that individuals can actually get care. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*
With the prospect of 32 million new patients clamoring for care comes sorting out who will see them all. New medical schools are opening and students say they relish the idea of entering a market that will demand their services. American College of Physicians member Manoj Jain, M.D., offers a more tempered view of how the fallout might affect primary care. (AP, American Medical News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Memphis Commercial Appeal)
Even Hawaii has a shortage, especially in primary care, but also cardiology and orthopedic surgery. It’s hard to believe recruiters couldn’t sell Hawaii as a destination. (Honolulu Advertiser)
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*
With the passage of healthcare reform, an estimated thirty two million new patients will try to find primary care doctors. That’s not going to be so easy because we already face a shortage of primary care doctors and about 13,000 more will be needed to take care of those newly eligible for insurance.
According to the American Medical Association, there are about 312,000 primary care doctors practicing in the United States. That includes family medicine, general practice (GP), internal medicine, and pediatrics. (In addition, there are 43,000 ob-gyn’s who also may serve as primary care doctors.) The estimate that another 13,000 will be needed comes from a study done by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Sixty five million Americans already live in areas that don’t have enough primary care doctors. And relief is not on the way anytime soon. It takes 5 to 8 years for a first year medical student to be trained as a primary care doctor. And the trend for budding doctors over the past decade has been away from primary care and towards more lucrative specialties. Read more »