The recent scandal surrounding secret waiting lists to cover up months-long waiting times at the Department of Veterans Affairs brought to light the shortage of doctors at the VA. However, it also sheds light on an even bigger issue that affects the entire country's health care system---an impending nationwide doctor shortage. https://www.aamc.org/ predicts the U.S. will be 91,500 doctors short by 2020, and more than 130,000 physicians short by 2025.
So far, Houston and Texas have been able to buck this trend, according to Spencer Berthelsen, Managing Director of the Kelsey-Seybold clinics in Houston. "Although we may not have all the population completely served, we do have a number of physicians in Houston who are still able to take additional patients," he tells KTRH. Houston's strong economy and its many world-class medical facilities make this an attractive market for doctors. There are also other factors working in favor of our region. "We are blessed in this state with a number of medical schools that supply doctors, who then go out for graduate medical education and become either primary care physicians or specialists," says Berthelsen.
The present doctor situation in Houston looks much better than the rest of the country, but... "That's not to say that will always be the case," says Berthelson. "Particularly with the influx of patients gaining insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and with the increasing number of baby boomers that reach the Medicare age." For those reasons, Berthelson predicts more patients will be seen by physician's assistants and nurse practitioners, and not necessarily by doctors. "In the future, the population will require more physicians than we have now, both across the country and in our region," he says.