Life Support: The Shortage of Physicians in America’s Rural Counties and How Foreign-Born Doctors can Help

This report by New American Economy asserts that there is more the United States government could do to allow immigrant doctors to serve America’s communities that face severe shortages of medical practitioners. Analyzing 2015 data from the American Medical Association, “Life Support: The Shortage of Physicians in America’s Rural Counties and How Foreign-Born Doctors can Help” shows that twenty-seven states have at least one county with no doctors, and forty states have a county with fewer than ten physicians for every 100,000 residents.

The report finds:

  • America’s rural counties are facing dire physician shortages.
    • Urban areas in the country boast roughly 205 active physicians for every 100,000 residents, while small, rural counties have less than half as many active physicians covering their populations — 82 active physicians for every 100,000 residents.
  • Some states with large swaths of rural areas have been particularly impacted by physician shortages.
    • Rural communities in Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona face the worst physician shortages in the country. In Florida’s small, rural counties, for example, there is an average of 42 active doctors for every 100,000 residents.
  • Residents in America’s rural communities are aging and will require additional medical support.
    • Studies have found that the average elderly American spends roughly three times more each year on healthcare than the average working-age individual. The median age of residents in small, rural counties is 42 years old, while in large, urban counties, it is 38.5.
  • Immigrant doctors could help alleviate physician shortages.
    • Currently, doctors who went to foreign medical schools make up 17 percent of active physicians practicing in small, rural areas, while they account for almost 25 percent of physicians working in urban counties. With many rural health systems struggling to find enough physicians, these foreign-born doctors could play a valuable role filling medical gaps.

Read our new report to learn more.

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New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…