Doctors have always been regarded as one of the most prestigious professions in the United States. It is up there with lawyers and political leaders. Doctors they are usually considered pillars of their communities. From the beginning of our lives to the end of them we spend quite a lot of time with our doctor’s. It would make sense that we would want to know that there is always going to be enough of them to cover all Americans. With the addition of millions of previously uninsured Americans, thanks to the new healthcare reform, the looming threat of a doctor’s shortage is real, and possibly one that we might not have a real answer to.
Currently in the United States there are about 350,000 primary-care doctors, and the college association says that we will need at least 45,000 more by 2020. However in recent years the number of medical students going into family medicine has actually decreased. (Staline, Wang) Mark Koba of CNBC states that the U.S. is estimated to be short about 16,000 primary care doctors. That leaves about 55 million people without a doctor or struggling to find one. He goes on to discuss that one reason for the shortage is the aging of doctors and their patients. He states that nearly half of all doctors are nearing retirement age, are also working fewer hours and seeing fewer patients. According to Jen Christensen from CNN who spoke with Dr. Ryan A. Stanton from Georgetown Community Hospital, Dr. Stanton is worried, that the “Obamacare” influx of patients will crash the system. While Dr. Stanton sees traumas in the ER, quite a few of the patients he sees are not emergent. "People turn to the ER because they have no other place to go after hours or they don't have access to a level of appropriate primary care," Stanton said. "The ER has become the safety net of our health care system. We can't turn anyone away like a doctor's office could. ... I worry though with (Obamacare) this will significantly increase patient volume." (Christensen)
Areas that are hardest hit by the doctor’s shortage are also the same areas that most need the health care reform the most as well. In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. However coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health expert’s doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now. Other places around the country, including the Mississippi Delta, Detroit and suburban Phoenix, face similar problems. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000. (Lowery, Pear)