Why can’t we have more doctors?

Everywhere I turn, I’m faced with concerns about what will happen to the system when we give many more people insurance. People complain that they will have to wait longer to be seen. People complain that doctorswon’t take Medicaid. Some even complain doctors won’t take Medicare.

Usually, this is coupled to some fear like socialized medicine = increased wait times. But it’s really just a fear that there aren’t enough doctors in the US to go around. There’s some truth to that. This is how we compare  to other countries with respect to the number of physicians we have:

And, too many are specialists.  Here’s how we compare with respect to general practitioners:

This matters. For instance, even now, people don’t feel like their doctor knows them:

Or that their doctor spends enough time with them:

Too often, we blame the system for issues like these. But, in this case, maybe it’s just the fact that we don’t have enough doctors. Maybe more would accept Medicaid and Medicare if there was more competition. Maybe wait times would be less, visits could be longer, and doctors would know you better.

So why can’t we have more? I’m sure there are many people who would like to be doctors, but don’t get the chance. It’s a pretty good gig. I understand why doctors themselves might not want the competition, but why not everyone else? What am I missing?

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