NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 10, 2010

The Connecticut State Medical Society is warning of a major shortage of primary care physicians in the state that, if not addressed soon, will lead to longer waiting periods for patients or a lack of access to doctors for the newly insured, says the Hartford Business Journal. 

According to a survey by the medical society, which polled 498 doctors: 

  • Some 28 percent of internists and 26 percent of family physicians said they already are not accepting new patients.
  • New patients have to wait an average of 18 days for a routine office visit, while existing patients have to wait 16 days to see a pediatrician or 15 days for an internist.  

The addition of thousands of newly insured patients will make the problem worse, especially in rural areas, if structural issues are not addressed, officials said: 

  • In Hartford County, it is estimated that 13.4 percent of the 544,000 individuals between the ages of 18 to 64 are uninsured and are expected to get coverage under both state and federal health care reform initiatives.
  • That means of the approximately 531 physicians in the region that currently provide primary care, they will each need to add at least 137 new patients.
  • But since nearly 23 percent of those doctors aren't adding patients, the average physician that is would need to add 179 patients.  

The primary care shortage is a result of many factors.  According to Matthew Katz, executive vice president of the state medical society, fewer medical students are going into the field because primary care doctors are paid less than specialists.  The huge debt load medical students carry after they graduate also adds pressure to go into the highest paying practice areas. 

Source: Greg Bordonaro, "Doctors Shortage Will Spell Delays," Hartford Business Journal, May 3, 2010. 

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