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Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 Feb;30(2):219-27. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0602.

Seniors' perceptions of health care not closely associated with physician supply.

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Office of Research, Development, and Information, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


We conducted a national random survey of Medicare beneficiaries to better understand the association between the supply of physicians and patients' perceptions of their health care. We found that patients living in areas with more physicians per capita had perceptions of their health care that were similar to those of patients in regions with fewer physicians. In addition, there were no significant differences between the groups of patients in terms of numbers of visits to their personal physician in the previous year; amount of time spent with a physician; or access to tests or specialists. Our results suggest that simply training more physicians is unlikely to lead to improved access to care. Instead, focusing health policy on improving the quality and organization of care may be more beneficial.

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