A Method of Estimating Physician Requirements

This article describes and applies a method of estimating physician requirements for the United States based on physician utilization rates of members of two comprehensive prepaid plans of medical care providing first-dollar coverage for practically all physician services. The plan members’ physician utilization rates by age and sex and by field of specialty of the physician were extrapolated to the entire population of the United States. On the basis of data for 1966, it was found that 34 percent more physicians than were available would have been required to give the entire population the amount and type of care received by the plan members. The “shortage” of primary care physicians (general practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics combined) was found to be considerably greater than of physicians in the surgical specialties taken together (41 percent as compared to 21 percent). The paper discusses in detail the various assumptions underlying this method and stresses the need for careful evaluation of all methods of estimating physician requirements.

Author(s): Anne A. Scitovsky; Nelda McCall

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Volume 54, Issue 3 (pages 299–320)
Published in 1976