Study: More Primary Care Physicians Needed by 2025

Nov 20, 2012, 11:00 AM

The United States will need 52,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025 to meet demand that is growing due to three trends: population growth, population aging and insurance expansion. That is a key finding from a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. The researchers estimate that population growth will account for the majority of the needed increase in primary care doctors.

Given the current number of visits to primary care physicians and an expected population increase of 15.2 percent, the researchers predict that office visits to primary care physicians will increase from 462 million in 2008 to 565 million in 2025. This trend will be especially evident among people 65 and older, a segment of the population that is expected to grow by 60 percent. Population growth will require an additional 33,000 physicians, the study says, and aging another 10,000.

Insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act will also require additional physicians, the researchers find. Eight thousand physicians will be needed to meet that growth.

The 52,000 additional primary care physicians would represent a 3 percent increase in the workforce.

Read the study.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.