Healthcare is a vital part of the economy in the United States, providing trillions in expenditure, as well as millions of jobs for Americans. The sector, though, is under strain by an acute shortage of health workers as well as the increasing health needs of the Baby Boomer generation.
With up to a third of physicians due to retire and the retirement of similar-aged Baby Boomers, it is likely that the labor force issues will be further exacerbated. Currently, over 25 percent of surgeons and physicians in the United States were born overseas, as were over a sixth of dentists and around a fifth of all nurses and psychiatric and home health aides.
There are just not enough healthcare workers who were born in the United States to meet the ever-growing demand, particularly in the areas of the country that have the most need, meaning a functioning immigration system is crucial to the system. Discussion of immigration policy in reference to healthcare has started to take place. Current estimates suggest that by the year 2025 the United States will be facing a physician shortage of as much as 46,100 to 90,400.
The National Center on Education and the Economy predicted this current shortage 26 years ago, in 1990. It issued a report at the time, discussing the needs of high-skilled labor in the future, and suggesting that those gaps would have to be filled by immigrant professionals.