Friday, January 22, 2021

The Primary Care Shortage by Region

As of September 2020, an estimated 81 million Americans lived in more than 7,200 areas designated as a primary care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  A geographic area, population group, or facility, residents of primary care HPSAs have poor access to basic health services because the area lacks a sufficient number of Doctors of Medicine (MD) or Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) who provide services as general or family practitioners, general internal medicine physicians, pediatricians, obstetricians or gynecologists. HRSA designation criteria is based upon the population within the HPSA relative to the number of primary care providers that service the area. Although the population-to-provider ratio needed to qualify for designation varies by HPSA type (geographic, population or facility), all HPSAs with a primary care shortage designation have a population-to-provider ratio that meets or exceeds certain thresholds stipulated by federal regulations.  As of September 2020, the HRSA estimates that all primary care shortage areas in the U.S. would need just under 15,000 more providers to eliminate all such shortage designations.

Here is a summary look at the primary care shortage by region (for state-level details, follow the "region" link):

Region (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
Far West
1,374 13,240.8 2,654
Great Lakes
878 11,229.0 1,586
Great Plains
1,063 4,159.9 908
416 6,733.0 1,558
New England
228 1,334.5 305
Rocky Mountain
466 2,971.0 540
1,818 27,003.5 4,748
898 12,595.8 1,983
U.S. Territories
62 2,248.8 663
U.S. 7,203 81,516.3 14,945

(1) Designated Geographic, Population Group and Facility HPSAs with a primary care shortage
(2) Population of designated HPSAs, in thousands
(3) Primary Care practitioners needed to remove HPSA Designation

Source:  Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, 9/30/20 (HRSA)