Bay Area Providers Begin Offering Home-Buying Assistance to Attract New Doctors
Several Bay area hospitals and clinics have begun new housing subsidy programs to "lure" doctors to the region by offsetting the high cost of housing, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation recently began seeking "philanthropic seed money" for a housing fund for doctors. And last year, Kaiser Permanente launched a program that offers new doctors up to a $100,000 loan to purchase a house. Hospital executives say that primary care physicians, including internists and pediatricians, are "particularly vulnerable" to the Bay area's high housing prices because they usually earn less than specialists. According to Dr. Francis Marzoni, a member of the board of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, primary care physicians with the foundation typically earn between $112,000 and $122,000 annually to start and often face "huge medical school debts." The median price of a house in the Bay area for the third quarter of 2001 was $474,100, according to preliminary figures from the National Association of Realtors. The Mercury News reports that area hospital officials "acknowledge that doctors may have an easier time affording a home than most." However, they add that doctors "take one look at what they can buy ... here and compare it with" what they can get elsewhere. According to Marzoni, the high cost of housing is "the biggest barrier to our recruiting doctors from outside the area." Bernadette Loftus, CEO of Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara, added, "This isn't about doctors crying poormouth. ... It's about whether we will be able to continue to provide the level and quality of service that we are currently providing" (Walker, San Jose Mercury News, 1/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.