There is a great deal of talk in the news and in the healthcare field regarding a possible shortage of physicians and surgeons in the U.S. in the coming years. According to many, the new healthcare reform plan that President Obama initiated and signed is partially to blame. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that 32 million previously uninsured Americans will acquire health insurance as a result of Obamacare. The addition of millions of new patients into the system could cause an estimated shortage of over 39,000 physicians by 2015.
The New Healthcare Plan is Not the Only Reason for the Potential Problem
There are other factors such as the Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, increased risks for medical malpractice claims and lawsuits, and lower reimbursements for doctors from Medicare and Medicaid as well as health insurance companies. Most doctors dislike the idea of working harder for lower financial gain. Physicians all over the country are considering early retirement or leaving healthcare as the regulations tighten. In addition, students entering medical schools are avoiding primary care career paths such as family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics in favor of higher paying specialties.
What do These Changes Mean to the U.S. Healthcare System?
For starters, longer wait times for patients at doctors’ offices and ERs. Also, there will be a need for more recruitment of foreign medical school graduates, an increased dependence on Nurse Practitioners and other allied healthcare personnel, and possibly the emergence of more Concierge Medicine, which has already been on the rise. Whatever the other changes might be, there will certainly be many unpredictable challenges ahead for physicians.
The additional 32 million patients that are expected to receive healthcare benefits will certainly put a strain on medical malpractice insurance companies. More patients means more lawsuits. This could potentially cause medical malpractice insurance rates to increase.