Shortage Designations/Underserved Areas
There are two types of health professional shortage designations: Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and Medically Underserved Areas or Populations (MUAs/MUPs). Both designations consider primary care physician-to-population ratios, other high-need indicators (poverty levels, percent of the population that is elderly, infant death rate and rate of low birth weight), and barriers to access care. Designations are required for placement of health professionals under the National Health Service Corps and waiver programs for foreign physicians. Designations are also necessary for the location of community and migrant health centers and rural health clinics, programs that provide health care to underserved populations.
Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are defined in Section 332 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 254e to include: (1) urban and rural geographic areas, (2) population groups, and (3) facilities with shortages of health professionals. Federal designation as a HPSA documents a shortage of health care providers (primary care, dental or mental health) as well as the existence of barriers to accessing care including lack of public transportation, travel time and distance to the next source of undesignated care and high poverty. To be eligible for designation, a geographic area or a population group (a low income or migrant population) must have a population-to-physician ratio greater than 3,000 to one.
Bureau of Health Professions, Shortage Designation Branch. Find a HPSA by address.