Daily Revolt

October 01, 2007

Doctor Shortage, the Next Pandemic

Just another crisis not dealt with. You can bet if John Edwards becomes president the problem will only get worse. Medical malpractice suits are big business, and trial lawyers are very influential in Washington. The poor be damned:
According to the AMA, in many communities around the United States, there is a physician shortage, which presents a serious health care problem. For a host of reasons, more than twenty million people are affected by the inability to access quality medical services.

[...]Limited access to medical care is not always because doctors are unavailable. When ill, people who live in urban areas are sometimes unable to travel on a crowded bus or take other forms of mass transit in order to receive medical care.3

Other reasons creating an inability to meet the demand for physician services include population growth, a larger number of people living beyond age sixty-five and needing the most services, doctors working fewer hours, some specialty areas, such as ER, are more attractive because of their less demanding schedules (primary care is more time-intensive), and our supply of physicians from U.S. medical schools is not growing.

However, the reason which might cause the greatest concern is that there are several states which do not cap non-economic damage awards in medical negligence cases, which has created sky rocketing insurance premiums for medical providers. Many doctors refuse to practice in states like Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Illinois, and Wisconsin, which make it more difficult to grow a financially lucrative practice without having to work twelve-hour days to generate more income to cover these additional insurance costs, or in which their careers can be jeopardized by settling in sometimes unwarranted lawsuits.

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