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Why is it so hard to find a good primary care doctor these days?

You may have noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a primary care physician in Providence County these days. Why is that? Information shared by the Center for Health Journalism of the University of Southern California shows that American medical schools churn out an average of 20,000 graduates a year. So why can’t you seem to find one of these new doctors?

The answer may lie in a paradigm shift within in the medical industry. Survey results released by The Physicians Foundation showed that in 2014, only 17 percent of physicians claimed to be operating in private practice, whereas 54 percent reported being employed by a hospital or healthcare association. Much of the reason behind this decrease in private practice physicians may be due to the heavy financial and regulatory demands required to run a medical clinic. Increased patient volumes due to more people having health insurance since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act combined with millions of Baby Boomers earning Medicare eligibility may require more resources than family practice doctors can come up with on their own.

Another potential reason for the drop in private clinic physicians may simply be provider discontentment. The Physicians Foundation surveys show that today’s doctors cite different challenges that they face in their daily work, including:

  •          High levels of government regulation
  •          Inconsistent and/or inadequate insurance reimbursement
  •          Increased malpractice liability concerns
  •          Decreased clinical autonomy

These factors may be helping to lead to a potentially critical shortage of qualified physicians. The Center for Health Journalism cites a 2013 survey of over 20,000 doctors that showed that 67 percent of respondents planned on retiring early. That may end up leaving you little choice but to turn to less-experienced providers for your primary care in the coming years. 

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