Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Physician Shortage Update

From the Washington Post: "U.S. faces 90,000 doctor shortage by 2025, medical school association warns".

Here is the opening:
The United States faces a shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians by 2025, including a critical need for specialists to treat an aging population that will increasingly live with chronic disease, the association that represents medical schools and teaching hospitals reported Tuesday.

The nation's shortage of primary care physicians has received considerable attention in recent years, but the Association of American Medical Colleges report predicts that the greatest shortfall, on a percentage basis, will be in the demand for surgeons — especially those who treat diseases more common to older people, such as cancer...
The shortage did not originate with ObamaCare, but the ObamaCare health law will make the shortage worse in two ways.  First, there will be an influx of new patients without a corresponding increase in the number of doctors. Second, many doctors are already demoralized by the pressures of the new health law -- and as they retire, we may not see the same caliber of new physicians entering the medical profession.

Some of this shortage can be addressed by having patients see non-physicians (such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants). But although the NPs and PAs can handle many medical issues, they can't completely perform at the level as a full-fledged physician -- nor should we expect them to.

Unfortunately, patients will pay the price in terms of longer waits for care.