Counties with the biggest primary health care worker shortages
From NursingEducation.org, June 17, 2021
The shortage of health care providers across the United States, particularly in rural areas and poor urban neighborhoods, is growing. A 2020 study from the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a 54,100 to 139,000 physician shortage by 2033. Further it found that more than 7,000 lives could be saved each year if the shortage is alleviated.
NursingEducation analyzed 2021 data from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) tool to determine the counties with the largest shortages of health care workers. This story focuses on the 15 U.S. counties with the biggest primary care provider shortages, based on available data for 916 counties nationwide.
This analysis looked at the number of full-time equivalent practitioners needed in each county to achieve the population-to-practitioner target ratio. For primary care, the target ratio must be at least 3,500 people per provider, or 3,000-to-1 in areas with especially high needs. In addition to the target ratio, an HPSA score is determined by the National Health Service Corps to identify areas that should take priority when assigning workers, with a maximum score of 25. This score is based on the population-to-provider ratio, poverty levels, infant health index, and travel time to the nearest source of care.
Keep reading to learn which counties in the U.S. have the biggest shortage of primary health care workers….
#13. Kauai County, Hawaii
Full-time practitioners needed: 13.16
HPSA score: 16
Kauai as of December 2020 had a 33% shortage of physicians, a longtime problem that only worsened in 2020. The state has struggled to attract health care providers due to high overhead, Hawaii’s general excise tax on medical care, and reimbursement rates from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. The Legislature can no longer afford to fund a loan repayment program paid for with a federal grant that requires a dollar-for-dollar match.
#5. Maui County, Hawaii
Full-time practitioners needed: 23.50
HPSA score: 14
Maui County has a physician shortage of 43%, according to a 2020 Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment. Statewide, there are 2,812 full-time physicians, which falls short of the 3,529 that are needed. The Hawaii Physician Shortage Crisis Task Force was formed in 2019 to find solutions to the problem. Among Hawaii’s physicians, 46% are 55 or older, while 21% are 65 and older. Some have deferred retirement because of the coronavirus.
#3. Hawaii County, Hawaii
Full-time practitioners needed: 29.13
HPSA score: 15
Hawaii County has 53% fewer doctors than similar-sized communities on the mainland United States, according to a 2020 Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment. It has 287 fewer doctors than it needs, the biggest shortage in the state. Over the past year, across the state, 110 doctors have retired, 139 have moved and 120 worked shorter hours. Hawaii is the only state that taxes Medicare benefits, and only one of two that taxes health care services….
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HTH: Study: Hawaii County has third worst primary care provider shortage in US