Projecting US primary care physician workforce needs: 2010-2025

Ann Fam Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;10(6):503-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1431.


Purpose: We sought to project the number of primary care physicians required to meet US health care utilization needs through 2025 after passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Methods: In this projection of workforce needs, we used the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to calculate the use of office-based primary care in 2008. We used US Census Bureau projections to account for demographic changes and the American Medical Association's Masterfile to calculate the number of primary care physicians and determine the number of visits per physician. The main outcomes were the projected number of primary care visits through 2025 and the number of primary care physicians needed to conduct those visits.

Results: Driven by population growth and aging, the total number of office visits to primary care physicians is projected to increase from 462 million in 2008 to 565 million in 2025. After incorporating insurance expansion, the United States will require nearly 52,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025. Population growth will be the largest driver, accounting for 33,000 additional physicians, while 10,000 additional physicians will be needed to accommodate population aging. Insurance expansion will require more than 8,000 additional physicians, a 3% increase in the current workforce.

Conclusions: Population growth will be the greatest driver of expected increases in primary care utilization. Aging and insurance expansion will also contribute to utilization, but to a smaller extent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Primary Care / supply & distribution*
  • Primary Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Workforce