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Biz ‘Bites:’ Idaho hospital bed and physician drought

The number of hospital beds in Idaho increased from 3,311 in 2015 to 3,535 in 2020, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis released on March 25. In comparison, the number of beds per 1,000 people dropped from 2.01 down to 1.91 over the same time period. This seemingly counter-intuitive result is an artifact of Idaho’s growth. The Gem State’s population grew faster (11.4%) than its hospital bed capacity (6.7%) from 2015 to 2020. 

Idaho tied with Colorado for the eighth lowest hospital beds per 1,000 in 2020. The KFF analysis did not differentiate between specialized beds (e.g., neonatal intensive care unit beds) versus general inpatient beds. KFF used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Hospital Association. 

Idaho is still dead last for the number of per capita primary care physicians. This metric was 96.6 physicians per 100,000 people in 2019. It dropped to 95.9 in 2022, cementing Idaho’s last place position. Again, the drop is due to Idaho’s faster population growth (6.37%) compared to the increase in the number of primary care physicians (5.67%) for the period 2019-2022. 

Idaho is also last in the nation for physician specialists (75.8 per 100,000) and for total physicians (171.8 per 100,000). 

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