Thursday, July 5, 2012

A little data on the number of doctors we have in the US---Domestic and Foreign. Do we have too many doctors with not enough to do or do we have a shortage? Maybe both...

Data is from the Census HERE

From 1980 to 2009, the average yearly NET change in the US (new entrants plus current MD's minus leavers) in MD's with US medical school degrees is 12,068---These are additional, domestically "produced" doctors EACH YEAR.

The average net change in MD's from foreign medical school degrees is 5,310. There are additional, foreign "produced" doctors EACH YEAR.

Average total change in the number of doctors in the US, per year over 29 years, is 17,378  medical doctors--domestic plus "foreign".

The graph below shows, in RED, the number of US Medical School graduates over time, and the projected number of doctors, in BLUE, that we would need to maintain the same doctor-per-person ratio.
Source: Carpe Diem

Notice the number of Medical School graduates (RED) stays relatively constant since the 1980-1985 period.
Keep in mind, not all of these graduates will eventually become doctors.  If fact, it looks like in any given years roughly 4,000 per year do not become full-fledged doctors, hence the need to "import" doctors from abroad (or at least from "Non-US Medical Schools").

The graph shows, based on population trends, we are not keeping a consistent doctor-per-person ratio. It suggests we are about 1,200 doctors short.

With the increase in demand for healthcare anticipated from the Affordable Healthcare Act, we will have to either increase the number of students graduating from US medical schools and/or increase the importation of doctors.

My question is: why has it not been policy to do either, given the population trend?  Do we have excess capacity in MD'S---too many with not enough to do? Or is it an artificial shortage encouraged by government policy/lobbying by interested parties?

I dunno....

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