Mar 20, 2023 - News

Almost 30% of Arizonans don't have a primary care provider

Data: FAIR Health; Note: Washington, D.C. and Hawaii's datasets were to small for analysis; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Nearly 30% of Arizona patients who received medical services between 2016 and 2022 did not see a primary care physician, mirroring a national trend, according to a new FAIR Health analysis.

Why it matters: Primary care providers are supposed to manage patients' day-to-day health needs and provide preventive care, and evidence shows they can drive down costs and improve outcomes. But many people are clearly getting their care elsewhere — if they're getting it at all.

The big picture: The report points to the geographic distribution of primary care providers around the country and regional gaps that can lead to worse outcomes.

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said last September that Arizona needs 650 primary care physicians in order to remove the federal designation of a Health Professional Shortage Area.

The intrigue: Arizonans see nurse practitioners as primary care providers more than patients in almost any other state.

  • This is likely because it is one of few states that allows nurse practitioners to practice independently and prescribe medications and controlled substances just like a doctor, according to the report.

What's next: The trend of nurse practitioners making up a large percentage of the primary care workforce will likely grow nationally as provider models evolve and other states eye changes to scope-of-practice rules.


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