Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Physician Visits Decline

This is news: The number of times Americans went to the doctor fell in 2006, a surprising reversal of a long-term trend--especially considering the aging of the population. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, physician visits fell from 964 million in 2005 to 902 million in 2006 (the latest data available)--a 6 percent decline.

The physician visit rate, or the number of visits per 100 persons per year, fell by an even larger 7 percent between 2005 and 2006--from 331.0 to 306.6.

Because of the decline in physician visits, doctors wrote fewer prescriptions--1.9 billion in 2006, down from 2.0 billion in 2005. The percentage of visits in which the doctor provided a prescription did not change, at 71 percent.

Americans are tightening their belts, and doctors and pharmaceutical companies are feeling the pinch.

Source: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2006 Summary

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