The crisis is indeed real. New York is facing a statewide shortage of primary care physicians, and it is nowhere near getting resolved as of now. The Healthcare Association of New York State reports that there are over a thousand unfilled physician positions across New York, of which nearly one-third of the shortage pertains to primary-care.
In 2013, a report published by Robert Graham Center estimated that the state of New York will fall short of at least an additional 1200+ physicians by 2030. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), there is a nationwide shortage of physicians, the number of which is estimated to rise upto 90,000 by the year 2020. Growing concerns over this issue has encouraged a team of industry experts at medicalbillersandcoders.com to sum up the fundamental causes that continue to aggravate this crisis, and to help understand how primary care billing and coding services can help curb down the losses experienced by primary care practitioners.
- Although the federal bodies predict a 17% increase in the number of physicians in the coming decade, baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 36%, of which a significant portion are doctors themselves, who are currently aging out of the workforce. So, by the time Affordable Care Act is implemented, at least one-third of all practicing physicians in US would have retired. Adding to that, Obamacare continues to register uninsured beyond the 11 million who have already registered for the program. In light of these statistics, the AAMC estimates that the shortage of primary care physicians will persist, and that this will affect, in particular, the aging population who are going to need medical care now more than ever.
- According to the AAMC, 62% of the medical graduates from New York end up practicing in other states. The president of The Associated Medical Schools of New York brought to light that 11% of the total country’s physicians get trained in New York, but most of them don’t stay there. On the other hand, medical schools and universities in Utah are reporting a drastic increase in the number of first-year students, while some institutions like the School of Medicine within the Texas Tech University have sought to reduce the length of their academic courses by a year. Moreover, very few graduates actually choose primary care over other specialized practices, while many become interns and enter family practice.
- In addition, the Healthcare Association of New York reported that 888 physicians were hired last year, to practice in New York City alone, but the number of physicians who retired the same year exceeded 2100. The same report also indicated that graduates tend to move to other specialty fields, given that primary care does not really pay well enough for the practitioners to cope with their student loans.
- Lastly, political influences and federal regulations have also played a major part in contributing to this physician shortage. For instance, every medical school graduate must complete a residency, before they can start practicing, their number amounting to about 113,000, most of whom are funded by Medicare. This number hasn’t changed since 1997, when Congress converged on that figure, to accommodate with the Balanced Budget Act. Senator Charles Schumer proposed a bill last year, propagating an increase in the number of Medicare funded residencies by 15,000 over the next five years, but Congress has not taken any action as of yet.
Many physicians and healthcare institutions active in the field of primary care have already resorted to primary care billing and coding services, to help cope with the stricter coding regulations that have been implemented lately, which have only maximized the risk of revenue losses for these comparatively less paid primary care physicians. While such billing and coding services do little to curb the shortage of primary care physicians, they do, however, stand as a good measure that newly graduated physicians can consider before deciding to move away from the primary care field for reasons associated with financial risks and revenue benefits.