The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) said the nation’s physician shortage isn’t going to get any better, projecting a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030 in a report conducted by global information company IHS Markit.
The underlying issues behind the shortage haven’t changed. In the 2015 to 2030 period projected by the study, the U.S. population is expected to grow by close to 12 percent, but the population over 65 is projected to grow 55 percent, driving much greater demand for services. Potentially exacerbating these issues would be major changes in utilization patterns and increased health insurance coverage.
“If people without medical insurance and people living in non-metropolitan areas had care utilization patterns equivalent to those of their insured peers living in metropolitan areas with similar demographics and health risk factors, then an additional 34,800 (full-time equivalent) physicians would have been required to meet this increase in demand,” the report said.
Physician retirements will have the greatest impact on supply. More than one-third of all active physicians will be 65 or older in the next decade, and 10 percent of the active workforce is already in the 65 to 75 age range.
The report also estimated shortages in smaller categories. The projected 2030 shortfalls range between 7,300 to 43,100 primary care physicians, 33,500 to 61,800 non-primary care physicians, 1,300 to 12,000 for medical specialties and 19,800 to 29,000 surgeons.
AAMC’s recommendations to alleviate the shortage remain the same: expanding medical school class size, innovating in care delivery and team-based care, making better use of technology and increasing federal support for an additional 3,000 new residency positions per year over the next five years.
“We urge Congress to approve a modest increase in federal support for new doctors,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, said in a statement. “Expanded federal support, along with all medical schools and teaching hospitals working to enhance education and improve care delivery, would be a measured approach to solving what could be a dangerous health care crisis.”