51 Million Americans Could Live in Primary Care Shortage Areas in 2014

Mar 6, 2013, 9:00 AM

When insurance coverage expands under health reform next year, dramatically increasing demand for primary care services, approximately 51 million Americans will be living in primary care shortage areas, according to a study published online in Health Affairs. Seven million people will be in hard hit areas, where the expected increase in demand for providers is nearly twice that of other regions (10% greater than their current supply, as compared to 5%).

The researchers predict the states most likely to have dire physician shortages because of increased demand are (in order) Texas, Mississippi, Nevada, Idaho and Oklahoma. They estimate the nation will need an additional 7,200 primary care providers, or 2.5 percent of the current supply.

The researchers “also found that small areas with a greater need for primary care services and providers, although concentrated in certain states, can be found in forty-seven states,” the study says. “The results of this study suggest that promoting and refining policies related to the distribution of primary care providers and community health centers may be as important as policies aimed at increasing the overall supply of primary care providers.”

The study was conducted by Elbert S. Huang (School of Medicine, University of Chicago) and Kenneth Finegold (Division of Health Care Financing Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services).

Read the abstract.
Read a Becker’s Hospital Review article about the study.

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