Health reform will require fewer doctors than anticipated

When 510,000 people are added to Colorado’s heath insurance rolls in 2014, the state won’t need as many new primary care doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants as once was believed.

An analysis by the Colorado Health Institute says that people won’t have to overwhelm emergency rooms once they get insurance – they’ll be other routes in place.

And, that means fewer doctors are needed. The nonprofit group estimates that the state will need between 71 and 117 additional primary-care doctors, and between 12 and 24 additional nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

But it’s not all good news.

“Still, a number of areas in Colorado already struggle with a shortage of primary care providers, and attracting even a small number of doctors and nurses will be a challenge,” the report said.

So where did they get the numbers. The state relies on a simulation model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That model said about 130,000 more people will be enrolled in the federal-state Medicaid insurance program. The other 380,000 will be required to pay health insurance or pay a penalty on their tax return.

The predicted change in doctor’s visits – accounting for age, gender, health status and other factors – show that there will be about 256,010 to 432,420 additional annual visits to doctors.

Then the institute looked at a survey by the Medical Group management Association that said a single doctor could see about 2,688 patients a year.

Other facts:

- About 4.4 million Coloradans currently have health insurance

- About 829,000 Coloradans are uninsured.

- After health care reform, about 390,000 people will remain uninsured in the state.

- Without health reform, all Coloradans under the age of 65 will make an estimated 8.6 million primary care office visits in 2016.

- The projected visits by the newly insured represent a 3 percent to 5 percent increase.

- Colorado has 3,262 doctors, 995 licensed nurse practitioners and 785 physician assistants in primary care.

- The projected need for additional primary care providers represents a workforce increase of 2 percent to 3 percent.

2 Responses to Health reform will require fewer doctors than anticipated

  1. Just how many current and future doctors will WANT to work for the government? … under tighter government regulations? … for government wages?
    Of those that want to work for the government, how many will be of the caliber we currently have?
    This is not the American way to pursue happiness.
    It is the socialist way to misery and extinction.

    Grandpa Crews
    December 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

  2. To give people a choice of either buying health insurance or paying a fine is unconstitutional. This Colorado Obamacare needs to be repealed. Money is being spent on this ill-founded program as you read this. And it is socialism at it’s best. See how well that’s working in Europe?

    Marybeth Snyder
    December 14, 2011 at 11:18 am