States with the Largest Projected PCP Shortages

Although the country as a whole is facing a looming 90,000 physician shortage, some states will be hit much harder than others and will need to increase their PCP workforce by 40% or more by 2030.

Although the country as a whole is facing a looming 90,000 physician shortage, some states will be hit much harder than others.

New research by the Robert Graham Center expanded the approach used to make the national projection to all 50 states by using state and national data. Doing so, the Robert Graham Center has projected to 2030 the state primary care physician workforce necessary to maintain the current primary care utilization.

“Studies of the future need for primary care providers indicate that demographic and policy trends will only strain a workforce already struggling to meet national needs," the Robert Graham Center wrote.

The projection took into account increased demand because of aging, population growth and a larger insured population due to the Affordable Care Act.

The country is already facing an unequal distribution of PCPs. June data from the Robert Graham Center revealed that in rural areas there are just 68 PCPs per 100,000 people compared to 84 per 100,000 in urban areas.

The new research reveals that while some states will need to increase their PCPs by 40% or more, others won’t need to worry as much. For instance, New York will need an additional 1,220 PCPs by 2030, which is just an 8% increase and North Dakota will only need an additional 27 PCPs, a 5% increased compared to the 498 PCPs the state had in 2010.

In general the Northeast and the Midwest will fare well — the expected PCP shortages for both will be well below the national average. However, both the South and the West will need much larger increases in the PCP workforce as their projected shortages are far above the national average.

Unsurprisingly, three of the states with the largest projected physician shortages also have some of the longest retirements in the country, with people living roughly 15 years past retirement age.

10. (tied) Florida

PCP increase needed: 38%

Downtown Tallahassee

Florida will need an additional 4,671 PCPs by 2030 on top of its current workforce of 12,228 practicing PCPs. Despite being a popular retirement spot, just 19% of the increased need for PCPs will come from the aging population — which is mostly on par with the rest of the top 10 — with 66% from population growth and 14% from a greater insured population due to the ACA.

10. (tied) Georgia

PCP increase needed: 38%

Augusta

Despite already having 5,496 practicing PCPs, Georgia will need an additional 2,099 to maintain the status quo. A fifth of the reason for the increase is due increased utilization from aging, 66% from simply population growth and 13% from the ACA increasing the population of insured.

10. (tied) Oregon

PCP increase needed: 38%

Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. Photo by Steve Morgan.

By 2030 Oregon’s projected need for PCPs will actually stand slightly below the West overall, but still far above the national average. The state will still need an additional 1,174 PCPs by 2030 to maintain the status quo. Nearly a quarter (24%) of the increased need for PCPs will be because of increased utilization due to aging, while 64% will be from population growth and 11% from the ACA increasing the insured population.

7. Alaska

PCP increase needed: 40%

Anchorage

Alaska’s aging population contributes to the state’s increased need for PCPs more so than any other state on this list. A greater insured population from the ACA accounts for 13% of the increased need, while 57% is from population growth and 29% is from aging. However, Alaska only requires an additional 237 PCPs on top of its current 588 practicing PCPs.

6. Idaho

PCP increase needed: 44%

While Idaho will only require an additional 382 PCPs by 2030, the current workforce stands at just 864, which makes the population to PCP ratio far greater than the national average. One-fifth (21%) of the need for an increased PCP workforce is from an increased utilization due to aging, 67% from population growth and 10% from the ACA.

5. Utah

PCP increase needed: 46%

Salt Lake City

Currently, Utah’s ratio of the population to PCPs is quite a bit lower than the national average, but by 2030 the state will need an additional 1,095 PCPs to maintain the status quo. Nearly three-quarters of the reason for the increased need will be from population growth, while 15% is from increased utilization due to aging and 10% is from the ACA increasing the insured population. Plus, Utah’s population lives an average of 15 years past retirement age (one of the longest in the country).

4. Texas

PCP increase needed: 47%

Austin

Perhaps the fact that Texas is the fourth-best state to practice medicine will lure more PCPs by 2030. The state already has 13,139 practicing PCPs, but will need an additional 6,260 by 2030. The current population to PCP ratio is already far above the national average. Like Florida, Texas will see a larger impact from the ACA as 15% of the need for more PCPs will be a result of a greater insured population due to the ACA, while just 64% is from a population growth and 19% from aging.

3. Colorado

PCP increase needed: 49%

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Spings. Photo by Corby Roberts.

To maintain the status quo, Colorado needs an additional 1,773 PCPs on top of its current 3,604. Currently, the population to PCP ratio is lower than the national average, but the 2030 projection stands far above the national average. The increased need for PCPs breaks down to 72% for population growth, 19% because of the aging population — and Colorado residents have one of the longest retirements — and 8% due to a greater insured population from the ACA.

2. Arizona

PCP increase needed: 50%

Scottsdale

While the West overall is projected to need more PCPs than the national increase, Arizona is even above the region’s need. Total, the state will need an additional 1,941 PCPs by 2030 and right now there are 3,808 practicing PCPs. Just 5% of the need is expected to be from the ACA increasing the insured population, while three-quarters is a result of population growth and 18% from increased utilization due to aging. Like Colorado, Arizona’s residents have long retirements, living almost 15 years past retirement.

1. Nevada

PCP increase needed: 77%

Boulder City with Lake Mead in the background. Photo by Sarah Nichols.

Although Nevada is the second-best state to practice medicine, it will be facing the worst physician shortage. The state needs an additional 1,113 PCPs. According to the report, 15% of Nevada’s increased need for PCPs comes from aging, 75% from the population growth and 8% from a greater insured population following the ACA.