Doctor Shortage Could Cause Health Care Crash

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Some have already proposed solutions to this looming problem. One suggestion is that non-physician medical professionals, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, can pick up the slack. Doctors, however, said his may not be enough to fill the gap.

"It would take 10 nurse practitioners to equal one primary care graduate, based on volume," Wexler said.

Another potential solution is patient-centered homes, where everyone works on a team in effort to increase the number of patients per provider. Some patients can be served by a computer online portal or a phone encounter when feasible to decrease the number of physician visits.

Most experts encourage consumers to challenge the current system, hold political leaders accountable, insist that government officials demand change in health care system design, policy, and reimbursement, along with medical school admissions and residency position allocations.

But whatever the solution, Wexler said something should be done, and as soon as possible.

"Looking at shear reality, we can't turn on a spigot and drop out new doctors," he said. "Expect long waits if we cannot figure out how to resolve it, the only place left to go for primary care will be the emergency room."

Green's outlook was not as rosy.

"[Patients] won't be able to see a primary care physician hardly," he said. "Primary care will be past saturated with wait times longer and will not accept any new patients. There will be an increase in hospitalizations and increase in death rates for basic preventable things like hypertension that was not managed adequately."

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