Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Medical Graduate Numbers

Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the  University of Michigan.  His blog "Carpe Diem" had a great article a few weeks back on the supply of medical graduates over the last few decades.  According to his research, the number hasn't increased as the demand increased in recent years.

This isn't an indictment on the new health care reform legislation but rather a look at the demand for services exceeding the health care system's inability to provide an adequate number of doctors to meet this increased demand.

"The supply of medical school graduates has remained basically flat for the last 30 years (data here). At the same time, the demand for physicians' services has increased over time because of a population that is both increasing and aging. So we've now got more people with more serious end-of-life medical problems demanding more medical care from a limited supply of physicians - and that's a sure prescription for rising MD salaries.

"The marketplace doesn't determine how many doctors the nation has, as it does for engineers, pilots and other professions. The number of doctors is a political decision, heavily influenced by doctors themselves. Congress controls the supply of physicians by how much federal funding it provides for medical residencies — the graduate training required of all doctors."

And we're now going to provide health care to an additional 20-30 million Americans under health care reform when the number of new physicians this year is about the same as the graduating class of 1980?"

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