Access To Primary Care Saves Money
The US faces many healthcare challenges but inadequate and worsening access to primary care is high on the list. In just over 10 years the US will have a 50k shortage of primary care physicians. This has been a long time coming. We lost 5 physicians for every 100k Americans between 2005 and 2015.
Primary care reduces healthcare costs and emergency room visits. Typically, state level spending on primary care services are about 5%-7% of total healthcare costs. In Western Europe it is about double that.
We Are Pushing Med Students Away From Primary Care
According to The Lown Institute the causes are mainly financial. There are too few residency slots and the specialists can earn a lot more money than primary care doctors. The high cost of medical school has led to an increase in student debt which is further driving students into the specialties.
The US government says around 84 million people do not have the access they need to primary care services. The situation in rural areas is even worse. Primary care physicians are concentrated in suburban and urban areas.