Press Release

Embargoed Until Contact

February 20, 2013

Sue Ducat
Director of Communications
(301) 841-9962


From Health Affairs


Seven Million Americans Could Face Primary Care Physician Shortage


Bethesda, MD -- A new study, being released today as a Web First by Health Affairs, finds that expansion of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with an expected increase in demand for primary care physicians, would directly impact some 44 million people who live in areas where the projected increase in demand for primary care providers is greater than 5 percent of current baseline supply. Of those, seven million people live in areas where the demand will exceed supply of primary care providers by more than 10 percent. With the national average for this shortage expected to be in the range of 1.5-2.4 percent, the findings of this study emphasize the need to promote policies that encourage more primary care providers to practice in areas where shortages will be exceedingly high.


Seven Million Americans Live In Areas Where Demand For Primary Care May Exceed Supply By 10 Percent

By Elbert S. Huang and Kenneth Finegold


Huang is affiliated with the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago; Finegold is an analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services.


This study will also appear in the March issue of Health Affairs.


To arrive at their conclusions, the authors studied the variation in primary care service areas as originally defined by the Dartmouth Atlas group. The authors estimated the number of uninsured in each primary service area in 2010, the number of people expected to gain insurance as a result of the ACA, and the number of providers that would be needed to serve the newly insured. These findings on local variations highlight the importance of efforts aimed at identifying "Health Professional Shortage Areas" and "Medically Underserved Populations" under the ACA. "Future policy research is needed to determine the implications of current and anticipated supply and demand for primary care services for decisions regarding the location of federal primary care provider service support," the authors conclude.

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published periodically and health policy briefs published twice monthly at You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download weekly Narrative Matters podcasts on iTunes.

The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all Web-site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.