Health care system doctor shortage being ignored

I’m not certain everyone is ignoring the problem, but like tort reform, the expected shortage of physicians does not seem to be an issue politicians are willing to discuss. Doctors are aging and retiring, while baby boomers are getting older and will need more care. Create an atmosphere where the profession is attacked rather than praised, and we have a problem Houston.

A couple of lines popped out at me last night while reading Herbert Pardes opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Coming Shortage of Doctors. Congress continues to consider a health care plan to fix the crisis that really does not exist. Yes, I know, some people are unable to pay health care insurance premiums and not everything is covered 100 percent, but everyone does currently have access to health care.

My point is that without the service side of the equation – enough doctors – you may not have access to any health care at all.

Even in the absence of health-care reform, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a shortage of at least 125,000 physicians by 2025. We have about 700,000 active physicians today. One factor driving this shortage is that the baby-boomer generation is getting older and will require more care. By 2025 the number of people over 65 will have increased by about 75% of what it is today—to 64 million from 37 million today.

Doctors are also aging. By 2020, as many as one-third of the physicians currently practicing will likely retire. If health-care reform adds millions of people to the health-care market, the shortage of doctors will be even greater than it is projected to be now.

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I consider my own ability to access health care – even with insurance – when I get into my 60s in less than 20 years.

Maybe if I take an EMT course or something so I can treat myself…

So why is it Congress is refusing to deal with a serious problem that actually may be worthy of the “crisis” label? You can not deny the probability Congress does not care about providing quality health care to Americans. This power grab has more to do with just that – a liberty and freedom power grab – than providing care for Americans.

Limbaugh is right. If the federal government controls health care, they control you. Their power becomes even more wide-ranging than they have now and America as we knew it will be gone.

Update: WTNH News Channel 8 in Connecticut will be featuring a news report tonight on why physicians are disappearing from the state. Too late for me to watch, but it may be interesting.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. cherwin on November 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I am a nurse in Connecticut and I have been sending the message about a shortage of physicians to Washington ever since this health reform thing started.

    Knowing what I know and being in healthcare, it scares the hell out of me.

    It won't only be a shortage of physicians, it will be a shortage of nurses and other providers also. We are not going to stay in a career where our autonomy and our hard work to become nurses or doctors is going to be stripped away and some government official is going to tell us how, when and where to do what we do.

    People who go in to healthcare are ,by nature, care givers. We want to do what we can to make someone feel better. If we are told that we are being prevented from doing something for someone due to the cost or because the person is too old to bother helping, we will quit what we do altogether. It isn't a question of our paycheck, it is a question of who we are and why we do what we do. Obviously losing any job is difficult and will effect our lives, but given the choice of walking away from someone who needs are help, because someone in Washington says we can't help them, or walking away from medicine altogether, we will choose the latter.  If we can't use the skills and knowledge we have to the highest degree that we know we can, then there is no sense in having the skills and knowledge. 

    They are looking at healthcare workers like they look at any other group of workers. We are not. Not that we are better or more important than anyone in their jobs, but our job requires working on the human body. There is no other worker that holds this kind of responsibility in their hands.

    In the end, no matter what you do, health is the only thing that matters.

    Obama and his crew are attempting to take away something that will affect us more in lives than anything else can.  If government takes over health care we will all suffer in more ways than we can imagine.


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