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The Next Health Care Crisis: Not Enough Physicians

Posted in Health Reform

As the debate regarding healthcare reform rages on, perhaps too often the blame for rising health care costs is pointed at physicians, and as a result, physician reimbursement has historically been an easy target for cost-cutting. Unfortunately, as a recent New York Times article illustrates, in only a few short years, the demand for healthcare services in the United States will far outpace the supply of physicians. According to the Times article, by 2015, the country will be facing a shortage of more than 62,000 physicians across all specialties. While the demand for physician services will undoubtedly force insurers to reimburse physicians at competitive rates, given the length of time it takes to train a new physician, we can certainly expect this shortage to have a direct impact on access to care in many communities for quite some time. Hospitals and third-party payers are well-advised to begin structuring their physician networks to try to minimize the impact this shortage will have on patient access.