A doctor’s supply is the only thing that keeps the country running.
As healthcare costs rise, so do shortages of doctors.
That’s what happened when the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance expansion went into effect in 2015, said Dr. James O’Brien, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
The expansion is expected to have an enormous effect on the US healthcare system, he said.
The number of doctors per capita in the US has risen from about 1,800 in 2000 to about 4,400 in 2020, according to the American Medical Association.
The growth is largely due to the expansion, but the shortage of physicians also means that it’s more difficult for people with chronic conditions to access care, O’Briensays.
And even when there are enough doctors, there are only so many available.
As of last month, there were 4,622,000 registered doctors in the country, according the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The agency estimates there are about 740,000 doctors in hospitals and more than 3 million general practitioners.
The shortage has left many struggling to keep up with the demand for medical services, which are essential for survival.
“You can get through the day and you can have a decent evening meal,” said Dr.-elect Michael J. Johnson, the vice president for medical affairs at the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons.
But when doctors are stretched thin, that means there’s no more money to be made from them.
“It’s not just the doctors who are struggling,” Johnson said.
“There’s the patients, too.
People are in the hospital because they’re sick.”
And while there are fewer doctors in some rural communities, the health care system is not working well for those residents, said Joe DellaVigna, a doctor and founder of the New York City-based Center for New Health.
“That’s where the money is,” he said, referring to health care spending in rural communities.
Rural hospitals are particularly prone to running out of money, according, because they are often rural and not staffed by physicians, according Johnson.
“When the hospital system is so overwhelmed, the physicians, nurses and dentists have to get the rest of the staff,” Johnson explained.
Doctors need to get paid to work in the hospitals, but that can be difficult when the hospitals can’t pay.
The Affordable Care, or Obamacare, has provided more than $100 billion in federal healthcare assistance to help rural hospitals, and the Medicaid expansion has provided $2.5 billion over the past three years.
But as of last year, the total federal assistance to rural hospitals was just $22.7 billion.
“We have a huge shortfall,” Johnson added.
The lack of doctors has resulted in many of those communities facing a shortage of other healthcare providers, as well.
Some of the doctors that are available in rural areas are in need of more specialized services, as doctors may be out of practice for certain types of patients, according O’Sullivan.
But doctors need to have the time to see patients, O ‘Brien said.
If they don’t see patients at all, it could be the end of their careers.
The medical shortage has become so bad that many rural hospitals have stopped offering surgeries.
As a result, Olinas surgeries have been canceled, and doctors have had to find alternative medical care.
And in some cases, the lack of physicians has caused hospitals to lose the capacity to keep their facilities running.
A lack of qualified doctors can also mean patients are getting better care than before, said O’Kell.
“A doctor can’t get the care that they need, because of the lack,” he explained.
“And that’s really hard on the patients.”
For some, the cost of medical care has also been a source of hardship.
“I can’t even afford to buy my own medications,” said a man who asked not to be identified, for fear of losing his job.
“The government is just so expensive,” he added.
That, too, is a concern for some doctors, OBrien said, and as more people are eligible for the healthcare law, the shortage will only get worse.
“All of us in this room have medical expenses, but not as high as a doctor’s expenses,” said Ollay.
“They can’t afford to have a medical malpractice suit filed because of a lack of money.”