The United States Census Bureau projects a 36% increase in individuals over 65 in the next ten years, becoming eligible for Medicare and the largest segment of health care needs in the population.  This is occurring at the same time that the supply of physicians in this country is dwindling.  By 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicts a serious shortage of doctors to treat this expansive and aging population.

Projections by the AAMC’s Center for Workforce studies, there will be a shortage of 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists in addition to primary care physicians in the next decade. As doctors age, they will retire and almost a third of physicians in this country will be retiring in the next ten years.

Medical home models may take up the slack but cannot accommodate everyone.

But, did you know that Medicare’s support for residency training has been frozen since 1997?  If the slots for residents does not increase, the decreasing number of available physicians will coincide with baby boomers burdening the Medicare system. (This does not even take into consideration those physicians that are still practicing but have decided to no longer accept new Medicare patients or have decided to drop out of participation in the Medicare program completely).

We must prevail on our congressmen to lift the freeze on Medicare supported residency programs, allowing for teaching hospitals to expand their programs and prepare doctors for their burgeoning role.

Unfortunately surveys show that 43% of physicians plan to retire in the next 3-4 years which serves to exacerbate the doctor shortage.  This is being prompted by Obamacare and the more strenuous the tactics to decrease reimbursements, the fewer doctors are going to find pleasure in working. Rather than caring for patients in the manner that doctors feel would be in the patient’s best interests, doctors are being “encouraged” to focus more on governmental rules and regulations.  Bob Moffit of The Heritage Foundation points out that doctors are “increasingly dependent on unreliable government reimbursement for medical services and links payment for providers to adherence to government measurements of care”.

Have you had a problem getting an appointment with a doctor to evaluate you?  What has your experience been?  Comment in the box below.