The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.
The U.S. has 352,908 primary-care doctors now, and the college association estimates that 45,000 more will be needed by 2020. But the number of medical-school students entering family medicine fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007.
A shortage of primary-care and other physicians could mean more-limited access to health care and longer wait times for patients.
Proponents of the new health-care law say it does attempt to address the physician shortage. The law offers sweeteners to encourage more people to enter medical professions, and a 10% Medicare pay boost for primary-care doctors.The article states that the number of medical resident positions will be a bottleneck in minting new doctors but misses a major point. Long term shortages in the production of any good or service is a sign of government regulation. The government should not need to offer "sweeteners" to lure students into medical school. Wages should be sufficient sweetener. The shortage of doctors will result in non price rationing of healthcare. One cost is that those who value the service the most are not necessarily those who end up with the rationed service. Queuing will almost certainly be a rationing mechanism. Waiting is time and time is money. Healthcare reform will cost middle income households.