Sunday, July 29, 2012

Big surprise from NYT: doctor shortages to get worse with new health care law

This should have been, ah, predictable.  If you have X supply of doctors serving Y supply of patients already, and you extend Y by several million . . . .

The window-dressing mechanisms in the Affordable Care Act meant to stimulate the training of more doctors will apparently provide only about 3,000 of the 45,000 more physicians needed in the next decade.  They actually couldn't do much more because our doctor-training system doesn't really have the capacity to expand that quickly.

There are, of course, more libertarian and market-based solutions that health care policy advisors will now have to examine after the fact, like allowing Physicians' Assistants and Nurse Practitioners to set up independent practices . . . .

Don't hold your breath.  Even had we adopted nationwide single-payer health care as many progressives wanted, we still could not have magically generated sufficient doctors to take care of everybody, despite all the promises to the contrary.  The capacity for bureaucratic wishful thinking has yet--like the speed of light--to be exceeded.

We can, however, almost instantly create the thousands of new IRS agents needed to enforce compliance with a health care system that doesn't have enough doctors.

2 comments:

tom said...

You forgot to decrease X by the number of doctors retiring early or simply closing their practices because they don't want to deal with the increased regulatory burden.

this will magnify the effect of increasing Y.

Anonymous said...

You also need to factor in W, the number of doctors already leaving the field because of increasing costs and decreasing Medicare reimbursements. Now factor W/V - T when you take into account increased accounting procedures, staff retraining to administer care based on new regulations and god only knows the new compliance requirements.