If Congress (House and Senate) does not act before Dec. 31, 2012, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is expected to extend insurance coverage to an additional 30 million U.S. residents in 2014, and as a result a physician shortage will no doubt prevent many newly-insured individuals from accessing health-related services in a timely manner. Is that an unintended consequence?
The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of about 62,900 physicians in 2015, and expects that number to more than double by 2025 and estimates that the shortage will top 100,000 by 2025.
Combining the health reform law’s that increase the time a physician must spend in conforming to the stipulations necessitated by the electronic health record thus reducing the time left to see patients, Medicaid expansion and population growth and the increase in baby boomers becoming eligible for Medicare all serve to contribute to the shortage. Medicare officials expect enrollment to reach 73.2 million in 2025, a 44% increase over current enrollment of 51 million seniors. With that rise in the percentage of Americans becoming eligible for Medicare, comes the fact that to fund his pet ACA, Obama needs to rob the Medicare fund of $716 billion between the years 2013 and 2022; 72 billion dollars per year or 13.3% of its annual budget.
Medical school enrollment has increased over the past few years, but it has not kept pace with the population growth. Furthermore, fewer medical students are choosing to become primary care physicians, as the salary disparity between primary care and specialists grows and their education debts precipitously rise. The law says that you can’t even access the specialist without first having a referral from primary care.
Now do the math; 30 million more people under 65 will be accessing healthcare, 22 million more seniors are expected to access Medicare, the latter being allotted $72 billion fewer dollars to meet their healthcare needs, all attended by 100,000 fewer physicians burdened by more bureaucratic paperwork and lower incomes.
Dr. McGowen authors his own blog, and has served previously as a contributor to The Boardman News.