Medicare Beneficiaries Growth Outpaces Growth in Radiologists

Medicare Beneficiaries Growth Outpaces Growth in Radiologists

Research presented at the recent Radiological Society of North America meeting shows that the number of Medicare beneficiaries is overtaking the number of existing radiologists in some geographical regions of the U.S. There is a gap in several areas where the growth rate of Medicare beneficiaries exceeds the growth rate of radiologists in their region.

What does this mean? This trend, should it continue, will impact patient accessibility, job opportunities, medical centers’ return on investment, and radiologists’ compensation.

Dr. Aditya Khurana of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, presented the data. The disparity is striking — with instances of Medicare beneficiaries outpacing radiology capacity by 50%.

Crunching the Numbers, Region by Region

The 2020 census revealed that the U.S. population of people ages 65 and older grew 35%, faster than any other age group. The number of diagnostic radiologist residencies only grew by 2.5%. Supply and demand can only become more critical as baby boomers continue to turn 65 through 2029.

Dr. Khurana and his research team looked at regional data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database of Medicare Part B claims from 2012 through 2018. They utilized Kaiser Family Foundation data to estimate the number of Medicare beneficiaries for each state for the same time frame. The disparities between Medicare beneficiaries and radiologists vary greatly by region.

From 2012 to 2018, researchers saw a distributing trend.

  • Medicare beneficiaries grew by 7.4%
  • Radiologists submitting claims to Medicare only increased by 4.4%
Region Medicare Beneficiary Growth Radiologist Growth
Northeast 3.4% 2.5%
South 3.2% 6.5%
Midwest 1.9% 2.0%
West 15.8% 5.7%


Variances between radiologist growth and increases in Medicare beneficiaries varied significantly among states.

  • The number of radiologists from state to state between 2012 and 2018 declined as much as 19.6% and increased in others by 21.5%.
  • The number of Medicare beneficiaries between 2012 and 2018 declined as much as 10.8% and increased as much as 14.8%.

Some states experienced as much as a 50% mismatch between Medicare beneficiaries and available radiology services during the study period.

Planning for the Future

Supply and demand issues are sure to occur in the coming years — with declining access to necessary diagnostic radiology services in some states and regions and wasteful resource allocation in other areas. Underserved groups may suffer disproportionally, and job opportunities for diagnostic radiologists will vary greatly by state and/or region.