How to Fix the Doctor Shortage

Case Study [Objectives 5.1, 5.2, Due Monday, Value: 10 points]

· Read the following case study:

· According to the article “How to Fix the Doctor Shortage,” published in the Wall Street Journal on January 5, 2010, “the United States will face a shortage of more than 125,000 physicians in the next 15 years . . . [and] . . .at least 16,000 more primary care physicians are needed today.” A decade ago, the story reports, new patients had to wait an average of 8 days to see a family or general practitioner. The author cites criticisms of the U.S. health care workforce for lacking sufficient primary care, and notes the widespread opinion that this situation is directly related to poor reimbursement. The story goes on to say that the physician shortage is, in part, a result of expectations that managed care and primary care would greatly reduce the need for physicians, particularly specialists. However, these expectations fell short against the rising needs of a growing aging population. Others have argued that there is no shortage of physicians and, rather, that the problem lies in the uneven distribution of physicians between rural and urban areas. Still others blame government policies that drive physicians out of the health care field and say, therefore, that government should not be counted on for the solution to the problem. Now, with health reform, whether there is an overall shortage or not, there definitely needs to be a different mix of doctors, particularly, more doctors who are trained in primary care.


· Write a 2-page response to the following questions:

· Is there a shortage of physicians overall, or only in key areas? If the latter, what policies might encourage more physicians to enter important fields like primary care and geriatrics?

· What are the key barriers to increasing the number of primary care physicians? Explain each.

· What policies might be used to address these issues? Explain each.

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