Last year, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced that the collective medical community expects a shortage of over 130,000 family physicians by the year 2025. Now, a new report further details the potential effects of that shortage and ways that those issues can be minimized.
The report, commissioned by the AAMC by the Life Science division of IHS Inc., a global information company, reveals that, given current trends, the US likely will face a shortage of between 46,000-90,000 physicians by 2025, including 12,000-31,000 primary care physicians and 28,000-63,000 non-primary care physicians, particularly surgical specialists.
Among the key findings are predictions that demand will outpace supply growth and that the Affordable Care Act will drive a portion of the increasing demand. Researchers conclude that although physician supply is projected to increase by about 66,700, a figure that represents a nine-percent boost, demand will far outpace that growth. Demand is projected to grow by about 86,700 to 133,200, or 11-17 percent. Once fully implemented, the ACA alone will drive demand by about 16,000 to 17,000 physicians, or two percent overall. Researchers note that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the act ultimately will mean about 26 million insured patients who otherwise likely would remain uninsured.
“The doctor shortage is real, it’s significant and it’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD. “Because training a doctor takes between five and 10 years, we must act now, in 2015, if we are going to avoid serious physician shortages in 2025. The solution requires a multi-pronged approach: Continuing to innovate and be more efficient in the way care is delivered as well as increased federal support for graduate medical education to train at least 3,000 more doctors a year to meet the health care needs of our nation’s growing and aging population.”
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