Lack of Health InsuranceMore than 47 million people in the United States had no health insurance as of the beginning of 2010. This has caused many to forgo doctors' visits for preventive care. Many patients often wait until they're seriously ill before seeking care from emergency rooms, making it harder, and more expensive, to treat them. They're also more prone to contracting, and therefore spreading, infectious diseases that regular checkups, vaccines, and other health maintenance measures could often prevent, the Nursing Online Education Database points out.
Staffing ShortagesA growing shortage of physicians and nurses is making it difficult to provide top-quality health care or to provide enough where it's needed most. Fewer medical school graduates go into primary care, which is where the highest demand is. This decline grows each year, in part because primary care physicians earn far less than specialists. And, Medicare and Medicaid payments often only cover a portion of their fees.
The shortage of nurses may be even more acute. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing cited predictions that the shortage could reach 260,000 by 2025. This has been caused in part by a shortage of nursing school faculty and financial problems that prevent nursing schools from expanding and have caused some to close, a July/August 2009 "Health Affairs" journal article explains. As a result, nursing schools turned away nearly 50,000 applicants in 2008, AACN added.