What if the Doctor Market Was Like the Lawyer Market?
Slightly more than half of the class of 2011 — 55 percent — found full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage nine months after they graduated, according to employment figures released on June 18 by the American Bar Association.
I couldn’t find a comparable figure for medical graduates on a quick search, but I’m guessing the number’s in the low single digits.
The lawyer glut has been going on for a while, and at least in Canada (the only place I’ve found data) it’s been having predictable effects on legal fees — down 40% in nine years ’01–’10:
I doubt that doctors’ fees are the prime driver behind our crisis of rising health-care costs (what providers charge). But at least one analysis says it’s an important part (Todd Hixon, Forbes):
U.S. spending annual on physicians per capita is about five times higher than peer countries: $1,600 versus $310 in a sample of peer countries, a difference of $1,290 per capita or $390 billion nationally, 37% of the health care spending gap. These conclusions come from an analysis co-authored by Miriam Laugesen of the Columbia University School of Public Health and Sherry Gleid, an Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (source)**.
This suggests that relieving the supply shortage – especially for primary care doctors — could have a big impact. Not a new insight, but I thought this data point would be of interest.
Update: In response to WH10′s good comments, perhaps some better thinking:
Maybe the answer’s to relieve the shortage of specialists, driving down their compensation and making primary care (relatively) a more attractive career option.
Cross-posted at Angry Bear.