Projected Demand for Physicians in the U.S.
As you would expect, the projected demand curve for physicians closely matches the aging of the U.S. population. The percentage of the U.S. population that is 65 or older grows by 2 percentage points five years out, 4 points ten years out and 10 full points by 2036. As a result, the largest spike in demand for physicians is projected between ten and twenty years from now.
Over the next twenty years, the demand for primary care physicians grows from 268,001 to 328,412 for an increase of 23%. The demand for medical specialists is projected to grow by 43% from 138,435 physicians to 198,017 and the need for surgical specialists will grow by 44% to 165,493.
Projected Supply of Physicians in the U.S.
The good news as it relates to the projected supply of physicians across the U.S. is that the overall supply is projected to be relatively consistent (and not shrink) and that the aging of the physician base does not reflect the realities of the demographics of the U.S. – this is the upside of the programs controlling supply so tightly.
The downside of static supply is that the demand for physicians dramatically outpaces supply moving forward and physicians tend to aggregate in urban and suburban areas as demonstrated on the map below.
The Projected Shortage of Physicians
Today, there is a shortage of 86,899 office-based physicians across the United States. The shortage is projected to grow to 99,592 five years out, 113,612 ten years from now, and 106,926 in twenty years.
Across all office-based specialties, the largest shortage of physicians by 2036 includes:
As we look out twenty years, rural markets are disproportionally impacted by the projected shortage of physicians – rural America will be 14% of the population and 40% of the physician shortage.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series, and it reflects the projected reality of physician shortages across the country. Check back next Friday as we examine some of the potential solutions for doing more with the same number of physicians.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Shane Foreman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-423-2671.