Providence Journal, October 13, 2011
UnitedHealthcare of New England has just added considerable momentum to a local effort to encourage young primary care physicians to practice in Rhode Island. The health care provider has donated $250,000 to the Rhode Island Foundation's loan forgiveness program for primary care professionals. The goal of the loan forgiveness program is to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in the state by helping them pay off their student loans. This in turn will help improve access to primary care for Rhode Islanders. The program awards up to $20,000 annually for up to four years for each physician. UnitedHealthcare's donation brings the Foundation's fund total to $1.35 million. A 2008 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only 2% of students graduating from medical school plan to practice primary care. Also, it is predicted that the United States will need 40% more primary care physicians by 2020 to meet increasing demand for such care. Currently, 66,000 Rhode Islanders do not have access to primary care physicians or facilities, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.