HopeTracker| It not news that the US faces a nursing shortage. But one of the ‘bad effects’ of Obamacare is a doctor shortage estimated at 150,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians, a branch of medicine shunned by many medical school grads because of lower pay and less prestige. Today’s WSJ writes that the number of these medical students fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007.
To be fair, today’s students graduate with enormous debt and can’t be blamed for wanting to specialize. Women doctors, who are often trying to balance family and professions, have shown more interest in being primary-care physicians, because of more predictable hours.
A truly severe bottleneck in Obamacare is the inability to expand residency positions. Medicare is a big funder of residency programs, paying teaching hospitals $9.1 billion each year. That number is capped by a 1997 law.
Doctors’ groups and medical schools had hoped that the new health-care law would increase the number of funded residency slots, but such a provision didn’t make it into the final bill. Even foreign doctors must complete a residency program in the US.
Hence, America has big future problems in treating the sick. Read on at WSJ.