Friday, October 01, 2010

The Real Cost of Healthcare

The untold story regarding the healthcare debate is not about where the money will come to pay for the newest entitlements, but who will care for them and where. The coming doctor shortage described in the articles linked, although critical, isn't the only worries. The baby boomers will be retiring en masse over the coming decade and we in the medical community are not prepared to care for them.

At present there is an expectation of care that cannot be met without infrastructure in place to care for all of an aging populations needs. This includes not only physicians, but nurses, respiratory and physical therapists and many others, but also available hospital beds, short term rehab centers, assisted living and nursing homes, hospice and palliative care centers. These are all in short supply right now and the situation will only get worse as the years pass.

For what it's worth there is a significant shortage of physicians, Obamacare, predictable makes it worse.
"While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025."
In April of this year the Wall Street Journal painted a rather bleak picture, "warn(ing) there won't be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years."

And of course it gets worse.
"Medical colleges and hospitals warn that these efforts will hit a big bottleneck: There is a shortage of medical resident positions. The residency is the minimum three-year period when medical-school graduates train in hospitals and clinics. There are about 110,000 resident positions in the U.S., according to the AAMC. Teaching hospitals rely heavily on Medicare funding to pay for these slots. In 1997, Congress imposed a cap on funding for medical residencies, which hospitals say has increasingly hurt their ability to expand the number of positions."
Much ado was made of Sarah Palin's "Death Panel" comment, but she is exactly correct. Some very difficult decisions will have to be made. Conveniently, the Government will be in the unfortunate position of having the make them.

Good luck with that!
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1 comment:

  1. I don't understand the point of this article. We should not have health care for most people because there would be a shortage of doctors? Wouldn't it be better to not decrease the insured (who will be treated regardless- it is not like they are leaving the country for their health needs) but rather increase the number of providers?