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Business Review Board / April 6, 2016

Major Doctor Shortage Looms

The shortage of doctors in America will soon hit the tens of thousands.

When Democrats were getting ready to pass ObamaCare, conservatives vehemently warned about the side effects that would accompany it. One of those we’re already seeing in the form of higher insurance premiums. Another is lackluster care at the doctor’s office, a problem a new report says will worsen in the ensuing years as the physician shortage hits the tens of thousands.

A study commissioned by The Association of American Medical Colleges found “Under every combination of scenarios modeled, the United States will face a shortage of physicians over the next decade… The projections show a shortage ranging between 61,700 and 94,700, with a significant shortage showing among many surgical specialties.”

The saddest part is we were warned. As the Investor’s Business Daily editorial board writes, “The folks who forced ObamaCare on us said this shortage wouldn’t happen. In fact, they told us that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would ‘expand the number of primary-care doctors, nurses, and physician assistants.’ We knew better, though. In 2009 we commissioned a poll that told us just the opposite: Hundreds of thousands — 45% of those surveyed — said that if ObamaCare became law, they would shut down their practices or retire early.”

A bloated market, reduced incentives, a heavier workload minus the pay, high tax rates and unjustified malpractice lawsuits are all contributors. But, Investor’s says, “Driving the shortage is ObamaCare’s attempt to expand access to health care. The increased demand to see a doctor is outstripping the supply of physicians. With so many new patients, the medical colleges can’t produce enough doctors to keep up.”

You simply cannot throw millions of people into the health care system without consequences. That’s not to say that some people shouldn’t have access to health care. But it is to say that a one size fits all approach was the wrong solution — and now we’re suffering for it. It’s fairly remarkable how many of America’s problems today could be solved by understanding basic economics. The system needs reform. We can start by requiring every lawmaker to take a prerequisite course on the law of supply and demand.

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