[E]xpanding coverage cannot succeed as long as there remains a shortage of primary care clinicians.
The expected number of graduating residents this year who will enter primary care is about 2 to 3%. This trend began about 20 years ago. There are only ineffectual proposals within any of the bills to attempt to reverse this trend. The average age of primary care physicians is in the lower 50’s. They will soon retire en masse because 50 year old professionals do not want to work 60 hours a week seeing 40 patients a day. They’re slaves to the insurance industry seeing 40 patients a day to maintain their salaries that have been slashed in ungodly amounts by decreasing reimbursements from insurance companies looking to maximize their profits.
Primary care doctors are about as dead as VCR repairmen. Unfortunately, they are the backbone of all things good in an equitable, affordable, highly functioning healthcare system. And they’ve been shat on by the feds, the AMA, the insurance companies, and, now, even their patients who expect just a little bit more than 8 minute visits.
Please understand that it’s not their fault. They are just trying help their patients and also make an honest salary and can only make that salary by getting reimbursed for office visits. If they got $100 for an office visit 20 years ago, they could see 20 patients a day. Now they may get $50 for an office visit and have to see 40 patients to earn the same salary.
For more of my thoughts on this, see this post I wrote in Fast Company called All Physicians Are Not Created Equal.