The 2008 census report reported that 15.3% of people in the United States are without health insurance, a decrease of 45.7 million people from the 2007 study claiming 15.8%.
Using a simple supply and demand model, if universal health care is implemented and the 15.3% of the population that was not covered before would now have access to the health care system, then demand for health care related services will increase.
Supply is currently based on number of practicing physicians (MD and DO), number of students in medical school, number of medical professionals (NP and PA) current medical school graduation rates, number of physicians retiring, taking leave of absence, sabbaticals, etc. Taking this into consideration, supply, will at most, stay the same, though the additional patients merged into the system will likely create a shortage with rural areas suffering the most from the shortage.
With an increasing demand and stagnant/decreasing supply the price will increase until supply catches up with demand (so much for controlling health care costs).
This may seem a simple fix, graduate more physicians into healthcare, but physicians are not the only piece of the health care puzzle.
Nurses (Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses) are required to run/staff hospitals, surgery centers, Intensive Care Units, Emergency and Accident Centers, clinics, quick-care centers, school health, telephone referral programs, community wellness centers, and health care in general. Nursing has long been known to have a shortage. Currently the average age of a Registered Nurse is more than 46 years old, and the retirement planned age is 55. With an aging workforce and forecasted shortage of more than one million nurses through 2020, the supply side of healthcare is quickly diminishing. (This estimate did not include implementation of universal health care and the additional 45.7 million currently uncovered individuals which will greatly affect the number of nurses needed to staff current facilities, let alone increase the number of staffed facilities.)
"If 46 million more people are added to the demand side of the health-care equation without optimistic productivity gains in providing health care, we likely will see a trade-off between quality and quantity, particularly as services are rationed."
Case loads per provider will increase, wait times will increase, quality will decrease. Yes, healthcare reform is necessary, however, the 85% of the population that has care should not have to lose access to care to provide for those that have not secured health care coverage for themselves.
Chmura, C., Supply and demand may hinder health-care reform. Richmond Times-Dispatch. September 7, 2009.