Doctor Shortage Worsened by Healthcare Reform, says Physician Group


The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that the projected physician shortage will be worse than expected since the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The group says that the influx of new patients and the cuts made to physician reimbursement will create a doctor shortage of about 63,000 physicians by the year 2015.

The Affordable Care Act provides insurance coverage for an additional 32 million Americans, the AAMC states, and the number of new patients will far outweigh the number of doctors trained to provide care. In addition, the Census Bureau projects a 36% growth in adults over the age of 65 in the next decade, meaning more Americans signing up for Medicare.

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Of the total number of physicians needed by the year 2020, 45,000 are primary care. The Affordable Care Act contains provisions to add physicians to the work force over the next ten years, including primary care grants and reorganizing residency programs. Although medical enrollment continues to increase, according to the AAMC, more residency training slots are needed.

The problem is expected to be most pronounced for people living in rural and other underserved areas.

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The AAMC also predicts a substantial shortage of non-primary care specialists such as cardiologists, oncologists, and emergency medicine physicians. About 46,000 additional physicians in specialty areas will be needed by 2020.

Atul Grover, Chief Advocacy Officer of the AAMC says that they shortfall could be reduced by making better use of other health professionals such as nurses and physician assistants. “It’s got to be a multi-pronged approach if we want to make sure Americans have access to health care,” says Grover.