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The Primary Care Physician Shortage And The Affordable Care Act

2061 words - 9 pages

What is the Issue:

In the past few years there has been much debate over the Affordable Care Act and its effects on the healthcare industry in the United States. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) “Will ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care and will create the transformation within the health care system necessary to contain costs” (The patient protection and affordable care act detailed summary, n.a.). However, what these transformations are and how they will affect the healthcare system, specifically primary care physicians are uncertain. Primary care physicians are the cornerstones for patients in the health care system. They act as a liaison between families and specialist physicians. Primary care physicians provide a variety of patient care services that involve multiple skill sets. They are in charge of diagnosing the patient and managing the plan of care. As a result of the newly implemented Affordable Care Act and the current shortage of primary care physicians “The primary care doctor is a rapidly evolving species -- and in the future could become an endangered one” (Okie, 2012).
Before the ACA was implemented, there was already a shortage of primary care physicians. It is important to note that most Americans utilize or go to see a primary care physician. “An analysis of the projected supply and demand for physicians, conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration in 2008, foretells of a total shortage across the entire workforce. Particularly evident is the deficit projected in non-primary care subspecialties, with a shortage of 35,000 surgeons and 27,000 medical specialists by 2020” (AAMC, 2014). According to the National ambulatory Medical Care Survey (2010) 55.5% of doctor visits were with primary care physicians. If a patient needed anything varying from a regular check up to a diagnosis to a recommendation to a specialist they would visit their primary doctor. There was an average of 184 primary care physician visits out of 100 people and there was a total of 441,102 visits in 2010 to primary care physicians and of those 43.7% were referred to a care specialist. Primary care physicians play a significant role in the healthcare system and are constantly in high demand.
The United States is experiencing a demographic transition that is directly affecting primary care physicians. As the Baby Boomers begin to age, there has become evidence of growing pains. Baby boomers refer to the group of people born between the years 1946 to 1964 that currently makes up 20% of the American population (Baby boomer definition, 2014, n.a). 20% may not seem like much however, that amounts to 77 million people born between the years of 1946 and 1964 (Immersion Active, 2014). By 2015 people who are 50 and older will represent 45% of the United States’ population (Immersion Active, 2014). Although, these numbers are not shocking they still have an enormous impact on today’s society. Americans aged 65 and...

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