Doctor population rate grows faster than state’s growth
March 24, 2014
• State has more docs than national average
• But not in parts of the Central Valley
California’s supply of physicians from 1993-2013 increased at more than double the pace of the state’s population, but some regions such as the San Joaquin Valley still face doctor shortages, according to a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation.
From 1993-2013, the number of physicians grew from 66,151 to 105,770, the report says -- a 59.9 percent increase. Over the same period, California’s population increased by 22.0 percent.
However, after subtracting residents, fellows, physicians who provide care less than 20 hours a week and others, the number of doctors actively providing patient care in 2013 was 71,538, it says.
The federal government recommends 60-80 doctors per 100,000 residents and 85-100 specialists per 100,000 residents. Overall, California in 2011 had 64 physicians per 100,000 residents and 130 specialists per 100,000 residents – above the recommended ratios.
But not in parts of the Central Valley, where the ratios fell well below recommended levels.
In the San Joaquin Valley, the physician ratio was 48 per 100,000 residents, and the specialist ratio was 80 per 100,000 residents.
Contrasts that to the wealthier greater San Francisco Bay Area, where the ratios were 86 doctors per 100,000 people and 175 specialists per 100,000 people.
The supply-demand balance is expected to become an increasing problem, the report says. Demand will increase as the population gets older and more people obtain insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Supply will shrink as more California doctors get closer to retirement, says the report. California has the nation’s second-oldest physician workforce, with 32 percent older than 60. The U.S. average is 28 percent.