Projected “doctor shortage” driven by new health law.


Our $2.7 trillion “disease care” business is about to get bigger.

Due to 30 million new patients accompanying our new health care law, the experts are projecting a severe shortage of doctors in many parts of the country. From a 7-28-12 New York Times article (See link below):

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000.

A government council has recommended that a given region have 60 to 80 primary care doctors per 100,000 residents, and 85 to 105 specialists. The Inland Empire has about 40 primary care doctors and 70 specialists per 100,000 residents — the worst shortage in California, in both cases.

What would this graph look like if everyone were taught the whole foods, plant-based method of taking charge of their own health?

According to those numbers, our nation will need approximately 550,000 physicians and they say we’re going to almost 70,000 short by 2015 and 140,000 short by 2025.

But how many fewer doctors would be needed if we told our citizens EXACTLY what they should eat to promote the best health? What if we provided total clarity about the healthiest possible diet?

A whole foods, plant-based diet. According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Forks Over Knives (movie), if we all ate an optimal diet, we’d soon need 70% fewer doctors.

Doing the math, that means that instead of needing 550,000 physicians, we’d need 385,000 fewer (70% of 550,000). So we would need only 165,000 physicians if everyone immediately began eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. That would work out to be be 50 doctors for every 100,000 citizens. So what would happen to the former doctors who were no longer needed?

The Good News. Many of those former “disease care” doctors could become “health-promotion” specialists. Many advantages would ensue:

  • Much less time and money needed to prepare a health-promotion specialist.
  • Less chronic disease, less testing, less procedures, less drugs, less costly health insurance—and far less money in the overall “health care system.”

Would you believe about two trillion dollars less?

But guess what? Along with two trillion fewer dollars in the system goes millions of jobs in the pharmaceutical, health insurance, and cancer screening/treatment businesses—to name just a few. But as I said, there will be new jobs created as people (at least in the near term) will need help in learning how to take charge of their health—ushering in the era of the health-promotion specialist.

More good news. Long-term, parents will teach their own children how to take charge of their health and we won’t nearly as many “health promotion” specialists. But we’re going to need lots of them in the next forty years. And we’re going to need millions of new small, organic farmers as we start utilizing our overworked arable land much more efficiently—growing food for humans instead of feed for billions of farm animals.

Like the Maytag Repairman, there will be much fewer disease care physicians and many of them will be lonely.

Long-term, it will be a much better deal for all concerned: For the people, for the planet, for the energy and water supply and for those two billion animals per week (worldwide) that are tortured and killed for our dinner tables during this first half of the 21st century.

Ultimately, we will all be in a much better place and the “disease care” specialist of the 22nd century will be as rare—and as lonely—as the old Maytag Repairman of the late 20th century.

Replacing all those “disease care” specialists will be millions of health-promotion specialists. Here is a picture of the first wave—nine of the eleven Plant-Based Nutrition Instructors at the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. From Boston to Texas to Oregon and California, this team is changing the world. For more information on the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Course (with eCornell), scroll to the bottom.

Alison, Jill, Kathy, Katie — Dr. Campbell — Rebecca, Leigh, Katherine, Anne & Lewis

One of these instructors, Lewis Freedman, just published a wonderful new cookbook with his wife Priscilla. It features about 100 whole foods, plant-based recipes (vegan & gluten-free) and lots of cooking tips. Entitled The Great Life Cookbook, you can click here to take a look and purchase online. ($26.50 includes shipping in the USA)

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. Leveraging his expertise in making complex things simple, he is now seeking corporate clients who are interested in slashing their cost of health care. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, where he also sits on the board of directors.
This entry was posted in Cost of Health Care, M.D.s---Health-Promoting, Medical Experts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Projected “doctor shortage” driven by new health law.

  1. Arthur Brooke says:

    Thanks for the steady supply of provocative and informative articles! In the present case, lets not forget the several million people wandering around in America looking for a diagnosis for their illness, under-served because doctors are overwhelmed by the flood of patients. Ironically, one example is celiac disease, very common, a study several years ago found average patient waited ~12 years(!) between first report of symptoms and firm diagnosis. Or people(who turn out to have a very serious/critical condition) going to the emergency room and waiting for hours in the same flood of patients. More than money to be saved here!

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