Costs, Doctor Shortages Concern Health Leaders in Some Calif. Areas
Health care leaders in some California regions are concerned about the shortage of physicians and the pressure on hospitals to contain costs, according to recent studies funded by the California HealthCare Foundation, Healthcare Finance News reports. CHCF publishes California Healthline.
Details of the Studies
The Center for Studying Health System Change conducted market studies of Sacramento and the Riverside/San Bernardino area. The studies are based on interviews with local health care leaders from 2011 and 2012.
In the Sacramento study, researchers found that physicians and hospitals dealt with the economic downturn relatively well, partly because residents have higher income and education levels, as well as a higher proportion of private health insurance, than other areas in the state.
However, the health care leaders expressed several concerns, including:
- A shortage of doctors, particularly primary care physicians;
- Deteriorating payer mixes; and
- Increased pressure on safety-net providers' outpatient capacity.
Riverside/San Bernardino Findings
In the Riverside/San Bernardino study, researchers found that the region was harder hit by the economic downtown and slow recovery.
The study found that access to care for low-income and rural residents continues to be a problem. The report noted that the region's per capita physician supply is lower than other California markets and that physician demand continues to outpace supply.
Similar to Sacramento, the study found that there are increased pressures on safety-net providers in the Riverside/San Bernardino area. The report notes, "County-run safety-net organizations face capacity and financial pressures to care for growing numbers of Medi-Cal and uninsured patients." Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In the coming months, CHCF plans to publish regional health care market studies of:
- Los Angeles;
- San Diego; and
- The San Francisco Bay area (Brimmer, Healthcare Finance News, 9/24).