California's supply of physicians has been growing faster than its population in recent years and now matches the national ratio. While specialists abound, however, primary care physicians are in relatively short supply and the squeeze could increase as older doctors retire and demand for care increases under the new federal health plan.
So concludes a statistical report by the California Healthcare Foundation. "With large numbers of physicians nearing retirement," the foundation says, "and not all doctors taking patients with private or public insurance, those seeking care, especially in some regions, could have difficulty finding a provider."
Nearly 30 percent of California's physicians are 60 years or older, a higher percentage than any other state, the study found, and the state is increasingly dependent on foreign-trained physicians.
The full report can be found here.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dr. Nathan Hitzeman, a primary care physician, discusses a patient's symptoms with third-year resident Laura Applebaum at Sutter's Alhambra Family Practice on May 20, 2010. Sacramento Bee / Manny Crisostomo