Report: U.S. Facing Massive Shortage of Doctors

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In some areas of the nation, it can be hard to find a doctor - and experts say that the problem is only going to get worse.

According to a report by 24/7 Wall St., by the year 2020 there will be shortage of 90,000 doctors across the nation, including 45,000 patient care physicians. The shortfall is being blamed on an aging Baby Boom generation, changes in health care law that requires people to get health insurance and the pending retirement of nearly a third of the nation's doctors.

Because Medicaid and Medicare tend to pay less than private health insurance companies, the report says that doctors have an incentive to practice in wealthier areas.

"Most of [the uninsured] are choosing to not get insurance because they can't afford it, and so you're not likely to get paid, at least paid fully, from those patients," Association of American Medical Colleges' chief policy officer Atul Glover told 24/7 Wall St.

The state where the shortage of doctors are the most accute, Mississippi, has just 159.4 doctors for every 100,000 residents. That number is roughly half of the state with the highest doctor-to-patient ratio, Massachusetts, which has 314.8 doctors for every 100,000 residents.

According to the report, the states with the highest doctor-to-patient ratios are the states with the highest incomes and lowest number of uninsured residents, while seven of the 10 states with the fewest doctors have uninsured rates higher than the national average of 15.5 percent.

The report has dire consequences for those states that have the lowest incomes and highest rate of uninsured residents, as the life expectancy in Mississippi is just 74.8 years, the lowest rate in the country. In addition, Mississippi had the second-highest rates of obesity (68.8 percent) and diabetes (12.4 percent) in the nation.

The state with the longest life-expectancy - Hawaii, at 81.5 years - has the eighth-most doctors per 100,000 residents in the nation, and has one of the lowest uninsured rates in the nation with only 7.9 percent of residents without health insurance.

Click here for more on this report.

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