US Doesn't Need More Doctors

That makes the problem worse; we need better primary care
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2009 12:37 PM CST
US Doesn't Need More Doctors
More doctors doesn't necessarily translate into better care.   (Shutter Stock)

Teaching hospitals want to increase the number of medical residencies financed by the federal government by 15,000 from the current 100,000. Seems to makes sense: More doctors makes for a healthier nation, right? Wrong, write Shannon Brownlee and David Goodman. In fact, it would only make the nation's health care worse by "perpetuating a system in which too many doctors provide poor-quality care at too high a price."

The way it works now, doctors abandon primary care because it doesn't pay to stay. Instead, they become specialists in big cities. "Before adding residency slots, Congress should demand that academic medical centers come up with a plan" to fix this mess, they write in the New York Times. "Insurers and Medicare should pay family-practice doctors and general internists enough to keep them in the field. And federal financing for medical education programs should hinge on their plans to train more primary care doctors and fewer specialists." (More doctors stories.)

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