Supply won’t meet growing demand for primary care

Federally funded programs will add at least 2,300 new primary care practitioners by the end of 2015, but the funding for at least one of those programs is set to expire at the same time, contributing to a massive shortage of doctors available to treat patients — including those newly insured through the Affordable Care Act and Medicare.

The U.S. is expected to need 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025, according to a study by the Robert Graham Center, which does family medicine policy research. But funding for teaching hospitals that could train thousands more of these doctors expires in late 2015.

Population growth will drive most of the need for family care doctors, accounting for 33,000 additional physicians, the study says. The aging population will require about 10,000 more. The Affordable Care Act is expected to increase the number of family doctors needed by more than 8,000, the study says.


Solving the physician shortage: Secrets to recruiting and retaining providers

Solving the physician shortage: Secrets to recruiting and retaining providers

The looming physician shortage, especially in primary care, was a topic of conversation in healthcare circles long before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law. Estimates as to the extent of the problem vary–from a predicted shortfall of 52,000 primary care physicians to more recent reports that the industry overestimated the crisis.

For the most part, healthcare organizations are able to accommodate increased patients, according to a report from Kaiser Health News. But because awareness of and enrollment in health exchanges continues to grow, some groups believe access difficulties lie ahead. “We have not felt the full impact of it yet,” David Fleming, president of the American College of Physicians, told KHN. “We are going to see a substantial increase in volume and it is going to be a problem because there are not enough primary care doctors.”

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