Report suggests declining number of primary care physicians in Missouri

Effects are felt most in rural Missouri

A new Missouri Hospital Association report warns of a decline in the number of primary care physicians.

The change has taken place since 2014, when the association published its first report looking at primary care physician numbers. The 2014 report showed an increase of primary care physicians throughout the state.

"A shortage of primary care physicians is projected to be between 14,800 and 49,300 by 2030," according to the new report.

The report also found that more than one-fifth of the Missouri population in 2030 will be over age 65.

According to the report, Missouri's health ranking continues to decline as well, from 37th nationally in 2014 to 40th in 2017.

The decline in primary care physicians can have a dramatic effect on rural Missouri, the report says.

"In 2018, one rural hospital closed in southeast Missouri, and other are endangered," according to the report.

The report said four rural hospitals have closed in Missouri since 2010.

"According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, of the 101 rural counties in Missouri, 99 are considered Primary Medical Care Health Professional Shortage Areas," according to the report.

Rural Missourians are  at several disadvantages, according to the report, because of gaps in factors such as income and education when compared to their urban counterparts.

The reports also suggests 32 rural counties in Missouri are without licensed hospitals.

"There are 55.9 (primary care physicians) for every 100,000 rural residents in Missouri," according the report.

The primary care doctors in these rural communities are on average older, as well.

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