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35 Texas Counties Have Zero Physicians

By John Commins  
   May 06, 2015

Even if you don't live in Texas, these numbers should scare anyone who cares about rural healthcare, because this crisis is not unique to Texas.

How bad is the provider shortage in Texas?

A survey commissioned by the North Texas Regional Extension Center provides some details. It found that:

  • 185 counties in the Lone Star State with a combined population of more than 3.1 million people, equal to or greater than 21 states, have no psychiatrist.
  • 158 Texas counties with a combined population of 1.9 million, equal to or greater than 14 states, have no general surgeon.
  • 147 Texas counties with a combined population of more than 1.8 million people have no obstetrician/gynecologist.
  • 80 counties have five or fewer physicians.
  • 35 counties have no physician.

Even if you don't live in Texas, these numbers should scare anyone who cares about rural healthcare, because this crisis is not unique to Texas, which ranks 41st among 50 states in physicians per 100,000 residents.

"We're saying that more than 3 million people in the state of Texas don't have a psychiatrist. That is like saying Kansas doesn't have a psychiatrist. That is like saying the state of Nebraska or Montana doesn't have an OB. It's incredible," says Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, who compiled the survey for NTREC.

"Sometime you have to put it that way to make people understand what we face."

Caveats apply
Loving County, TX, population 95, has no physicians. Neither does King County, population 283.
However, Live Oak County has no physicians for its 11,867 residents. Jackson County, population 14,591, has two physicians. The bottom line is that there are few and often no physicians across wide stretches of this stretched-wide state. Singleton says Texas would need to add more than 12,800 physicians to put it in the national average of physicians per 100,000 population.

As a result of the shortage, many residents of rural Texas are forced to travel to the next county or further to access healthcare.

"Some say you are manipulating data. Some of those counties don't have that many people and don't justify having an OB anyway. Yes, you do have a couple with 95 or 100 people. You will also have counties with 77,000 people in them without access," Singleton says.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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