Calif. Physician Workforce Increases, but Regional Disparities Exist
The number of physicians in California increased at more than double the pace of the state's population between 1993 and 2013, but certain regions lack an adequate number of providers, according to a report by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Central Valley Business Times reports.
CHCF publishes California Healthline.
The report found that the number of primary care physicians in the state increased by 59.9% from 1993 to 2013 -- from 66,151 to 105,770 physicians -- while the population increased by 22% over the same period.
However, the report noted that more than 30,000 California physicians actively providing patient care in 2013 were:
- Physicians who provided care less than 20 hours per week; and
The federal government recommends there be between 60 and 80 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents. In addition, it recommends there be between 85 and 100 specialists per 100,000 residents.
According to the CHCF report, California in 2011 met the federal government's recommended ratio, with:
- 64 PCPs per 100,000 residents; and
- 130 specialists per 100,000 residents (Central Valley Business Times, 3/24).
However, some regions did not meet the recommended physician-to-patient ratio, according to the report. For instance, the report found that in 2011:
- San Joaquin Valley had 48 PCPs and 80 specialists per every 100,000 residents; and
- The Inland Empire region had 43 PCPs and 77 specialists per 100,000 residents.
Other regions far exceeded the recommendations. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 had 86 PCPs and 175 specialists per 100,000 residents (CHCF Report, March 2014).
Demand Expected To Increase
According to the report, demand for primary care is expected to increase in the coming years because of:
- An increasing number of individuals gaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act; and
- An aging population in the state.