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Medical Workforce Shortage

One of the biggest challenges we face in helping our members is a shortage of qualified medical professionals. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States could face a shortage of more than 100,000 physicians by 2030.1

That estimate doesn't even fully take into account the underserved populations we're trying to reach. If all barriers to care were removed, the U.S. would have needed up to 96,800 additional physicians in 2015.1

This is a growing concern for both plan and provider, and a serious challenge to our mission to help people get care, stay well, and build healthy communities.

Causes and impacts of the workforce shortage

The American Medical Association has highlighted several different issues that are contributing to the shortage,2 including:

  • A growing population: Between 2015 and 2030, we will see a 12 percent increase in our overall population.
  • An aging population: By 2030, the percentage of people who are age 65 or older will increase by 55 percent, and the percentage of people age 75 or older will increase by 73 percent.1 Already, 10,000 people turn age 65 every day in this country.
  • A declining physician pool: More than one third of all active physicians will be age 65 or older in the next 10 years, and their eventual retirements will severely impact the physician supply.

These factors mean that it will be even harder for many people to get care, especially in rural areas where issues of availability and transit already exist, particularly for older patients.

How we're helping

Because access to proper care is one of the key aspects of our work, AmeriHealth Caritas is committed to working with both providers and governments to help address this growing crisis.

We support the efforts of states to expand the health professional pipeline through their loan repayment, grant, and residency programs, as well as community-based graduate medical education and fellowship programs. We also encourage efforts to make the most of existing provider networks through telemedicine services, community health workers (CHWs), health care extenders, peer support specialists, and more.

We also are involved with specific initiatives, including:

  • Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes): A new model of training, educating, mentoring, and consulting that helps our health care workforce to deliver improved, best-practice care at the local level.
  • AmeriHealth Caritas Health Policy Fellowship: Open to Louisiana State University (LSU) medical students, this eight-to-nine-week program exposes students to various aspects of health policy, such as research, analysis, and advocacy — an experience that will help them better manage and lead future health industry changes.

1. Sarah Mann, “Research Shows Shortage of More than 100,000 Doctors by 2030,” Association of American Medical Colleges, March 14, 2017, https://news.aamc.org/medical-education/article/new-aamc-research-reaffirms-looming-physician-shor/.

2. Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., Kate Petrell, M.Phil., “Addressing the Physician Shortage: The Peril of Ignoring Demography,” Journal of the American Medical Association, May 16, 2017, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2613210?redirect=true.