INDIANAPOLIS — As the United States continues to face a physician shortage across the United States, obstetrics and gynecology doctors are dropping particularly fast.
In a recently released study, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists projected a shortage of close to 9,000 OB-GYNs by 2020, and a shortfall of 22,000 by 2050 in America.
"The ramifications of this shortage for women's health extend far beyond childbirth. While OB-GYNs are a primary source of care to women during pregnancy and delivery, they also provide a wide range of gynecological care throughout women's lives," the Doximity report stated. "ACOG's predicted shortages would have a significant and negative impact on women's healthcare in the U.S."
Despite the nation's apparent shortage of OB-GYNs, Indianapolis is among the top metropolitan areas least at-risk of a shortfall, ranking at number 10. The top three cities least at-risk were Portland, San Jose, and San Francisco.
The top three cities most at-risk of an OB-GYN shortage are Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Miami.
In developing the index score of the highest and lowest at-risk metros, Doximity composed the number of births per OB-GYN by year and took into consideration the average age of each cities workforce.
"The metropolitan areas with older OBGYNs and higher workloads will have a greater risk of shortages," the report said. "Conversely, the metropolitan areas with younger OB-GYNs and lower workloads will have a lower risk of shortages."
In 2018, the U.S. reached a 32-year low in birth rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Indianapolis was also among the top eight cities — ranking at number six — with a slightly growing or stagnant birth rate. Nashville, Orlando, and Louisville are the top three birthrate metros in the U.S.
"Of the metros observed in this study, 42 experienced a declining birth rate of −1% to −5%," the report stated. "Eight of these metros are in the top 20 most expensive states to have a baby, vaginally or via C-section, with and without insurance."
"Although all groups differ based on rating/claim history, size of group … in general, you can expect to pay $36,000 – $44,000 for coverage for an OBGYN," Jocelyn Forehand, CEO of Southside OBGYN, said.
OB-GYN rates increase significantly by location for two reasons, according to the American Medical Association: a state's tort laws and incident rates of malpractice suits.
For instance, premium rates for an OB-GYN in Miami, Florida is as high as $190,829 but is as low as $49,804 in Los-Angeles, California.
"The low cost of living is also a plus compared to other large cities," Forehand said. "Also, state law can affect a patient's ability to work with skilled mid-level providers, which can impact the number of patients you would need to see in your clinic."
The Circle City is about 2 percent over the nation's average of OB-GYN's under the age of 40. The national average of OB-GYNs under 40 is 18.90 percent, Indianapolis is at 20.63 percent.
As the latest study predicts, millennials will be the most impacted by the impending lack of OB-GYNs.
"For millennial women, this drop is particularly pronounced; birthrates for women aged 25-29 in 2018 fell 3% from 2017 while birthrates for women aged 20-24 decreased 4% during the same time period," the report read. "... It will become more difficult to receive standard prenatal care."