Fewer Americans Have a Primary Care Doctor Now

The number of Americans who have a primary care doctor is shrinking -- with potential consequences for their health, researchers say.

Their new study found that in 2015, an estimated 75% of Americans had a primary care provider -- down from 77% in 2002. The declines were most pronounced among people under 60: For Americans in their 30s, for example, the figure dropped from 71% to 64%.

The study, published Dec. 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine, could not dig into the reasons.

But the new "convenience culture" could be one driver of the trend, said lead researcher Dr. David Levine, a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Especially for people who are younger and in better health, walk-in clinics -- promising fast service at nontraditional hours -- may be more appealing than an old-style primary care appointment.

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