Steps Taken to Deal with California Physician Shortage

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Primary care physicians provide basic healthcare, periodically checking up on your health with things like preventative tests and screenings. Their care is focused on prevention and maintaining wellness for everyone from infants to adults. However, one of the largest problems currently facing the country is the lack of incoming primary care physicians, particularly in California.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), almost 30% of all doctors in California are age 60 or older, closing in on retirement. As these physicians retire, there isn’t enough coming in to take their place. The average salary for a primary care physician is about $150,000. Other medical specialties make almost twice that, and so, medical school graduates, with over $100,000 in debt, are tempted to go where the money is.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans, who were previously uninsured, will be able to gain access to healthcare, making primary care physicians more in demand than ever across the country.

42 of California’s 58 counties are facing a shortage of primary care physicians. California has 235.8 – 265 active physicians per every 100,000 people. About 90 of those are primary care physicians, coming out to 34,604 total active primary care physicians for a state population of 38,041,430.

To address this issue, the California governor recently signed two bills: Senate Bill 21 and Assembly Bill 1288. Senate Bill 21 was approved September 6, 2013, asking the University of California, Riverside’s School of Medicine to promote physician-retention programs so that graduates will stay in the area after completing their studies. Assembly Bill 1288 was approved by the governor on September 9, 2013. It calls for the medical boards to prioritize licensing of physicians who will be serving areas where primary care needs aren’t being met.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

One thought on “Steps Taken to Deal with California Physician Shortage

  1. It will be interesting to see if these bills have any lasting effect on the number of primary care physicians.

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