The impact of health care reform on the future supply and demand of physicians updated projections through 2025

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Abstract

Health care reform (the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act-PPACA) signed into law in March 2010 is expected to make health insurance coverage available to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans by 2014. It will also improve coverage and access to care for many others. Questions have been raised as to whether there will be a sufficient supply of physicians and other health professionals to serve the nation, especially in light of concerns that the nation was facing potentially significant shortages even before health care reform. A 2008 AAMC report1 concluded that the nation was likely to face a significant shortage of physicians in the future under a variety of scenarios. While the report included a scenario of universal coverage, that scenario does not adequately reflect the final PPACA provisions. Therefore, in order to assess the potential impact of the PPACA on the expected shortage, the AAMC Center for Workforce Studies, working with The Lewin Group (who assisted AAMC on the development of the original projections) has updated the 2008 projections to reflect the actual PPACA provisions, and also incorporated more recent physician supply and utilization data and updated population projections. Based on these revisions, under our most plausible scenario, described below, we project an overall shortage of 91,500 and 130,600 active patient care physicians in 2020 and 2025 respectively, and a primary care shortage of 45,400 and 65,800 physicians in 2020 and 2025, as indicated in the table below.

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