America ranks #30 in longevity in the world and one of the reasons other industrialized countries enjoy longer, healthier lives is that 80% of their doctors are general practitioners who know their patients and can catch health problems earlier. In America only 20% of our doctors are GP's and that number is falling.
Today only 2% of graduating medical students say they plan to work in primary care internal medicine, or becoming a family doctor. The biggest reason is money. Family medicine has the lowest average salary of only $186,000. Only 42% of residency slots are filled by U.S. students. By comparison an orthopedic surgeon makes an average of $436,000 and 94% of those slots are filled by Americans.
Clearly the trend is not improving and in 2006 the American College of Physicians warned that the nation's primary care system is "at grave risk of collapse."