Thursday, November 05, 2009

Herbert Pardes: The Coming Shortage of Doctors -

In the debates about the current "hot topic" of political conversation there seems to be a steady confusion, or maybe obfuscation is a better word, between "health coverage" (that is, insurance) and "health care" (that is, doctors, hospitals, medicines and affiliated technologies). All of this conveniently glosses over the issue of supply (demand we seem to have a handle on)...

Even in the absence of health-care reform, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a shortage of at least 125,000 physicians by 2025. We have about 700,000 active physicians today. One factor driving this shortage is that the baby-boomer generation is getting older and will require more care. By 2025 the number of people over 65 will have increased by about 75% of what it is today—to 64 million from 37 million today.

Doctors are also aging. By 2020, as many as one-third of the physicians currently practicing will likely retire. If health-care reform adds millions of people to the health-care market, the shortage of doctors will be even greater than it is projected to be now.

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