When an estimated 14 million uninsured Americans get Obamacare coverage next year – there may not be enough doctors to treat them.
The U.S. is already short 20,000 doctors, a number expected to increase more than six-fold by 2025.
While the shortage is partly due to the anticipated increased demands from Obamacare, here’s a factor no one’s talking about: The rising cost of medical school and the low pay of primary care physicians, relative to specialized doctors, the result is that fewer students are choosing to practice general medicine, according to a report released this morning by Nerdwallet Health.
The study finds that non-primary care doctors earn, on average $116,000, or 65 percent more, each year than primary care physicians. That’s a huge differential, especially considering the average new medical school graduate carried $166,750 in debt last year.
“We need enough skilled physicians to accommodate the demands that newly insured Americans will place on the health system,” Christina LaMontagne, vice president of health at Nerdwallet said in a statement. “Future physicians will need more incentives to go into primary care if we are to avoid worsening the primary care shortage. Health care reform will be unsuccessful if not accompanied by reform in graduate medical education.”
The study found that fewer than half of all doctors would still choose a medical degree– but if they had to choose again, internists were the least likely of all doctors to say they’d go into the same specialty.