Almost 1 million children living in mostly rural parts of the United States do not have access to a nearby doctor, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday. The Dartmouth University study found that more than "950,000 children in 47 states lived in regions without any primary care physician for children," while 20% of children live in areas with the highest concentration of primary care physicians for children (where there are less than 710 children for each pediatrician).
There are currently about 75 million children living in this country according to the U.S. Census Bureau and while the researchers looked at data from 1996-2006, the study does suggest that more needs to be done to provide more doctors in underserved areas. Researchers found that in that 10 year time period, the number of general pediatricians went up 51% and the number of family physicians increased by 35%.
The study authors suggest the number of available doctors wouldn't have to increase to care for children in underserved areas. Instead they suggest that "through incentives to attract even a small proportion of child physicians from high-supply area to low-supply areas" this problem could possibly eliminated.
The new health reform law has built-in incentives to encourage more doctors and nurses to practice in rural areas and according to the federal government's website, will lead to the "training and placement of more than 16,000 primary care providers over the next five years."
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