Fewer doctors practice primary care.
But millions of patients will seek that care.
A fundamental change is needed to close the gap.
Doctor Shortage How to Beat the
By Marsha Mercer
For years, Marcia An-
drews visited the same in-
ternist in Washington, D.C. Then
she turned 65, got her Medicare card
and had to find a new doctor: Her inter-
nist was not accepting Medicare patients.
Primary care doctors are in such demand now that they
can choose not to accept Medicare, whose reimburse-
ments to physicians are lower than private insurance rates.
“The doctor shortage is worse than most people think,” says
Steven Berk, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine at Texas
Tech University. “The
population is getting older,
and they’re retiring earlier,” Berk says. And graying
doctors—nearly half the nation’s 830,000 physicians are
over age 50—are seeing fewer patients than they did four
years ago, a 2012 Physicians Foundation survey reported.
Soon, this fraying primary care network will face another
so there’s a greater
need for primary care
physicians. At the same time,
physicians are getting older, too,