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Physician Need Still Outstrips Rising Supply In California

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2010

 

  • California doctors are less likely to see Medicaid patients or uninsured patients.  While 90% have patients with private insurance, 69% accept patients covered by Medicaid and 65% accept uninsured patients.
  • Pay for performance is a declining trend in the state. In 2005, P4P peaked, with 45,000 physicians participating, but in 2008, that number had declined to 35,000.
  • With respect to physician earnings, family and general practitioners in California earned 88% of what their counterparts across the country earned, and obstetrician/gynecologists earned 94%. On the higher end, anesthesiologists earned 106%, followed by pediatricians, 102% and psychiatrists, 101%.
  • One issue that is increasingly important is linguistic competence among the nation’s physicians. “Not having access to a provider who speaks their language can have a negative impact on quality of care,” the foundation report says.  Perhaps somewhat surprising, San Diego County, a major county closest to the border, has the lowest percentage of physicians who speak Spanish in the state, only 11% compared to the statewide average of 18%, and lower than other regions.
  • Another concern about physician supply is the numbers who now refuse new patients, especially if they lack health coverage.  While 84% of the state’s primary care providers and 94% of other physicians will accept new patients, only 64% of primary care providers accept new patients covered by Medicare, 54% will take new patients if they have Medicaid and 42% if they lack any coverage.  For non primary care providers, the numbers are slightly higher.  About 94% will accept new patients, but 79% will take new Medicare enrollees and 59% if covered by Medicaid and 47% if they are uninsured.
  • In 2008, California was best in the nation for retaining medical school students and was second in the nation for retaining residents.
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    Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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