Seeing your primary care physician is getting harder and harder each year in the U.S. In this Forbes article, we see some startling results from this year’s AAMC Annual Physician Workforce Report, and the findings are bleak. According to the report:
• Every 100,000 Americans are being treated by less than 91 primary care physicians. The numbers decreased from 91 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents to 90.4 in just 5 years.
• The number of Americans who can afford medical care is increasing due to the Affordable Care Act, making the deficiency even more pronounced.
• Primary care physicians are the spearheaders of good physical well-being, and these are specifically the fields with the biggest decline.
Cause for Alarm?
Anything below a 100 to 100,000 (or 1 to 1,000) ratio is cause for concern, according to Dr. Atul Grover, the chief public policy officer at AAMC. If this backsliding continues, it could very well result in people not having access to the kind of primary medical care they need. When this happens, general health deteriorates, and people end up paying significantly more for expensive hospital stays, medications, and extensive care for more serious issues.
Private insurance providers such as United Health Group and Anthem, as well as Medicare, endeavor to deliver medical care that stresses primary care, wellness, and accessibility to the masses. According to the numbers, though, this movement isn’t having success.
• The majority of U.S. states have less than 100 primary care physicians attending to 100,000 patients.
• Areas in the southwest are worse off than northeastern or upper midwestern states like Michigan and Minnesota.
• Southern states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas are experiencing this shortage more than other states.
• What’s more, obesity, hypertension, and other chronic conditions that frequently lead to heart disease are found more often in the above-mentioned southern states.
• 11 of the 50 states have fewer than 78 primary care physicians per 100,000 patients, with Mississippi suffering as the most ill-equipped sector, with 64.5 physicians per 100,000 Americans.
• Massachusetts took top scores for best medical care per capita, leading the pack with 133.9 physicians to every 100,000 residents.
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