A number of states — California, Texas, and Florida — are already seeing the stresses that are caused within the healthcare system with too few doctors to handle the number of patients out there. The shortage of physicians could significantly restrict patient access, hurt overall care quality, and further jack up costs, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The shortages that are beginning to be seen are particularly bad in certain specialties such as radiology, as well as subspecialties in cardiology, pediatrics and some surgical practitioners. To counter this, some medical schools – many of which had sought to limit enrollment under the previous belief that there were too many doctors — are being forced to find ways to increase enrollment while funding is being sought to make available more training for currently practicing physicians, and to help foreign physicians seeking to come to the U.S. find an easier way in, according to the Times.
One big problem is aging baby boomers that will soon push certain specialties to the limit. Simultaneously, many physicians are also reaching retirement age. Making matters more grim, the next generation of younger physicians is largely viewed to be less eager to work the same amount of long hours as their physician predecessors, and thus are expected to be about 10 percent less productive, the Times reports.
However, some industry analysts think there might be at least a window of 10 years to counter this growing problem. As of now, according to the Times, 1 out of 5 people in this county resides in an area that is considered “underserved” by the government. Also, HMOs and new technology have not brought about the decline in physician demand as once expected.