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June 26, 2003

Analysis: New York has far more doctors per capita than the nation

New York State has 44 percent more physicians per capita than the nation as a whole, a new analysis shows.

The report, "The Facts About New York's Physician Supply," showed that there were 413 doctors for every 100,000 New Yorkers in 2001, citing statistics from the American Medical Association. The national average is only 286 doctors per 100,000 population. The analysis considered only physicians not employed by the federal government.

New York also leads all states except Massachusetts when only non-federal physicians working in patient care are counted. For example, California and Texas, the nation's two most populous states, lag well behind New York in number of doctors in patient care per capita. New York has 328 nonfederal physicians in patient care per 100,000; for California and Texas, the numbers are 218 and 182, respectively. Massachusetts has 351 nonfederal doctors in patient care for every 100,000 people.

Between 1980 and 2001, the nation's ratio of doctors per capita rose by 46.6 percent - and reached the same ratio that New York had 21 years earlier, the report noted.

The study also noted that growth in the supply of doctors has an effect on spending. Nationally, from 1980 to 2000, national spending on physician services rose 508 percent, the report noted.

The new analysis echoes one that The Council and its research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, have advanced in the past in connection with New York's unique tax on employers to pay to train doctors.

In a 1999 report, The Institute argued that New York's one-of-a-kind tax on health insurance, which then totaled $2.7 billion, supported the training of doctors that New York didn't need and, in many cases, could not retain.

"New York trains over 15 percent of the nation's physicians, even though it has only about 6.8 percent of the nation's population. Half of these New York-trained doctors then go on to practice in other states; they make up 45 percent of New Jersey's doctors, 34 percent of Connecticut's and 21 percent of Florida's, among others," the report said.

The New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans released its analysis on June 23.