The Number of Primary Care Doctors is Shrinking, and That is Really Bad News

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July 20, 2021 – An important contributor to the health of Americans is shrinking and the effects on the overall health of people in this country is and will continue to be negatively impacted. This is the subject of the latest edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast

Lower Pay

Fewer medical school graduates are choosing primary care because it pays significantly less than other specialties. Worse still, a lower number of primary care doctors is linked to 85 deaths every day, according to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences. Can primary care doctors make more money? “Under the current system of payment via employer funded health insurance it will be challenging to make that case,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But there may be a chance for new primary care doctors to ignore most of the insurance companies and their accompanying rules and work on a cash basis.” 

Cash Only Please

Even patients who have their own health insurance can often save themselves money by paying cash. Doctors will not have to hire staff to process insurance claims, hassle with them over payment or non-payments. Patients save money on premiums and the doctors have fewer expenses. Patients pay less, doctors keep more of the fees because of lower expenses. 

Covid Pandemic Bankrupts Many Practices

In addition to a shortage of practicing doctors, primary care visits declined significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Add to that a good number of primary care practices were not able to access federal funds and relief and went under. “If these trends continue, it will have a very negative impact,” Dr. Steven Goldstein told his listeners. “Regular visits to the primary care or family doctor allows that physician the chance to know his or her patients better. What are their medical histories, prescribed medication, allergies, or family histories that could affect a diagnosis? These are details that the primary care doctor will know because he or she has a history with patients.”

What Difference Does It Make?

A single visit to a primary care doctor makes a difference for the patient. “When you get sick, that doctor knows how to treat you,” Dr. Goldstein said. Primary care is a health care component where an increased supply is associated with better population health and more equitable outcomes. “For this reason, primary care is a common good, which makes the strength and quality of the country's primary care services, or its lack, a public concern.”

About the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast                                                                   The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To hear the podcast go to: SoundCloudiHeartRadioStitcherBacktracksLibSyn, or the website at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org. Dr. Goldstein insists that for the health and welfare of the American public, the congress must pass reforms that limit the influence of the pharmaceutical industry and its lobby. 


Access to primary care physicians is a matter of the number of doctors who choose to pursue primary care as a career. Pay for those roles is lower than it is for most specialists and no surprise, fewer are choosing to go into this important part of the healthcare profession

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