LYNDHURST, N.J.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--As Americans begin to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the question begs to be asked: Are there enough doctors to go around?
“Nurse practitioners and physician associates will take on a more important role in diagnosing and treating patients”
The answer depends on where you live. According to Vitals, the market leader in providing online tools that enable consumers to make informed decisions about the cost and quality of their medical care, access to primary care physicians is dramatically different in each metro area.
The report, part of the Vitals Index, found a wide discrepancy in the top 50 metro areas for primary doctors per capita. The Vitals Index included counts of general and family practitioners, internists, pediatricians and OB/GYNs against the metro’s population. Boston has the best access to these doctors, with one doctor available for every 83 residents. Arlington, TX, was ranked as the worst, with only one primary care doctor for every 642 residents.
Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals, said several factors contribute to the doctor crisis in many areas of the country. “While Baby Boomers age and place greater demands on the health care system, medical schools have continued to graduate only a finite number of doctors each year,” said Rothschild. “And more of these young doctors choose to study a specialty, rather than practice in primary care. Add to that a physician population that is aging rapidly, and the dwindling supply just can’t meet the increased demand.”
Analysis of results from the Vitals Index shows residents in Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Cleveland have the best access to primary care doctors. Meanwhile, people living in San Jose, Virginia Beach, Los Angeles, El Paso and Arlington are most likely to feel the impact of the doctor shortage.
|City||# of Doctors||Population||Per Capita||Rank|
|San Jose, CA||1946||945942||486.09||46|
|Virginia Beach, VA||810||437994||540.73||47|
|Los Angeles, CA||6506||3,792,621||582.94||48|
|El Paso, TX||1102||649121||589.03||49|
Millions more demanding coverage under the ACA will inevitably cause increased pressure on an already stressed system. Rothschild says that to meet this demand, the marketplace for alternate medical care facilities will likely expand.
“Nurse practitioners and physician associates will take on a more important role in diagnosing and treating patients,” Rothschild said. “Retail clinics and urgent care facilities will become the norm for routine care. Even medical tourism is likely to see a boon as patients plan vacations around treatments abroad, rather than wait for openings in a surgeon’s tight schedule.”
Vitals aims to make better health possible. We are a leader in providing online tools that enable healthcare consumers to make informed decisions about both the quality and cost of their medical care. Through health plans, hospitals, and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people each year access information for better, more affordable care. The Vitals Index is an ongoing report about the state of the doctor-patient relationship based on proprietary data and surveys.