Insight & Analysis / How Many Primary Care Providers Will Colorado Need?
Health care policymakers have expressed concern that the need for primary care providers in the wake of health reform could overwhelm the health care system. CHI has calculated that the state’s 510,000 newly insured will generate between 256,000 and 432,000 additional visits to primary care providers in 2016. These visits will be above and beyond any visits already made by the currently uninsured. They represent a 3 - 5 percent increase above existing primary care use.
Based on the visit productivity of providers, CHI estimates that Colorado will need between 71 and 117 additional full-time physicians and between 12 and 24 additional full-time nurse practitioners and physician assistants specializing in primary care. In 2011, Colorado had approximately 3,300 physicians practicing primary care and 1,000 nurse practitioners and 800 physician assistants who report primary care as a specialty.
In low-income communities and areas of the state already struggling with a shortage of primary care providers, the need to attract even a seemingly modest number of additional providers will be challenging.