Medical treatment from an actual physician could become a rare and expensive luxury for many average Americans in just 10 years because of a growing shortage of doctors.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is predicting in a new report that there simply will not be enough doctors to meet all the demands for medical care in the US by 2025.
The United States will face a shortfall of 46,100 to 90,400 physicians by 2025, the report concluded. What is even more frightening is that the biggest shortage will be of surgeons and cancer specialists.
“Study results suggest the demand for physician services is growing faster than supply,” the introduction to the survey states.
The result: Many Americans will have to care for their own medical needs – or be placed on a waiting list for actual service.
The reason for the shortage is due to supply and demand, and an aging population, The Washington Post reported. The nation’s medical schools are simply not turning out enough doctors to meet the demands.
“An increasingly older, sicker population, as well as people living longer with chronic diseases, such as cancer, is the reason for the increased demand,” AAMC President Darrell G. Kirch said during a conference call with reporters.
Obamacare is also contributing by placing more people in the system, but the report said that amounts to only 2 percent of increased demand.
Doctor Shortage ‘Is Real’
Not surprisingly, the doctor shortage will affect certain segments of the population more than others. The report also found:
- The demand for doctors will increase by a rate of 11 to 17 percent while the supply of doctors will increase by only 9 percent.
- The nation will face a shortfall of 28,200 to 63,700 specialists by 2025. That figure includes surgeons, dermatologists and other experts.
- There will be a shortage of 12,500 to 31,100 general practitioners or family doctors by 2025. Many health insurance plans require an examination by a general practitioner to get a referral to a specialist.
- The shortage could hit rural areas hardest. A 2013 Graham Center policy paper noted that there are 68 doctors per 100,000 residents in rural areas and 84 physicians per 100,000 people in urban areas. The same paper noted that rural areas in the United States were already short 7,000 doctors in 2013.
The AAMC said federal funding is partially to blame, and it urged increased funding for the training of new doctors.
“The doctor shortage is real,” Kirch said. “It’s significant – and it’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need.”
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