Research Highlights: Health Maintenance Organizations and the Changing Physician Workforce
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
Pagination or Media Count:
The composition of the U.S. physician workforce and its geographical distribution are critical to the efficient functioning of the health care system and the provision of quality health care. Many analysts believe that the growth of managed care in recent years has decreased earning opportunities for specialists while not affecting, or even Increasing, earning opportunities for generalists. Moreover, managed care is thought to have reduced physicians professional autonomy and the appeal of medical practice. Thus far, however, the influence of managed care on the geographical distribution of physicians has not been considered. To explore the relationship between the growth of managed care and the physician workforce, Jose Escarce and colleagues conducted a series of studies of physician practice location and retirement decisions from 1956 to 1996, a period of rapid growth in managed care. These studies drew upon data from the American Medical Association AMA Physician Masterfile, which contains information on physician practice location, specialty and major professional activities. The researchers found that the growth of managed care in the United States, particularly the growth of health maintenance organizations HMOs, has had a profound effect on the practice location choices of both generalists and specialists. In addition, the growth of HMOs appears to be influencing physicians retirement decisions, further contributing to a geographical redistribution of physicians throughout the nation.
- Medicine and Medical Research