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Expanding Baby Boomer Population Brings New Health Care Challenges


Patients are having to wait longer to make appointments with new doctors in major U.S. cities, according to a new study that links the increased waits partly with an explosion of, well, new patients.

The report was issued by Merritt Hawkins, part of the health care staffing firm AMN Healthcare. Meanwhile, another report issued in recent days – this one from the Association of American Medical Colleges – found a similarly uncomfortable reality for patients: It projects a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030.

The United States’ current health care infrastructure is probably inadequate to fully meet those needs, at least at the moment. That’s according to Dr. Noam VanderWalde, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and director of clinical research in the Department of Radiation Oncology at West Cancer Center.

That’s where politics enters the scrum of the unanswered questions surrounding this demographic quandary.

“It’s a difficult political situation,” said Dr. Teresa Waters, a professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at UTHSC whose research focuses largely on applying economic concepts and tools to health and health care delivery. “Everybody’s paid their Medicare taxes and expects Medicare to be there for them. But the fact of the matter is nobody’s paid as much as they’re going to cost the system. Everybody has contributed to this, and everybody will demand a solution.”

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