Doctor Shortage? Not So Fast


The media and medical community have been claiming that the shortage of doctors may prevent patients from receiving healthcare. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that by 2025, the U.S. will be short 130,000 physicians. This estimate comes from the trends that millions of people are getting insurance for the first time under the Affordable Care Act, 10,000 baby boomers are qualifying for Medicare every day, and the population over the age of 65 is doubling.

However, there are many primary care services apart from physicians that are available to reduce the need for doctors, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and social workers. These services can work together in teams to provide cost effective care.

Atul Grover, a spokesperson for the medical school association, theorizes that it is better to train too many physicians than to risk being short of doctors. On the other hand, Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan believes that training too many doctors will add to the health care system cost.

Nevertheless, one consensus on the healthcare debate is that the U.S. needs to base payment on how well physicians keep their patients healthy, not the type or number of procedures performed.

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