Matt Holt has an excellent post about the supply of doctors in the U.S. and the inefficiency they create:
Today in Health Affairs (or you can read the potted version in Forbes), Dartmouth researcher David Goodman and his team (including Wennberg) cry bullshit on the “we need more doctors” meme. While the big academic centers which get the money from training them would love to have more residents, by examining one type of intensive medical process — caring for patients at the end of life in ICUs — Goodman et al shows pretty logically that many major academic centers use far too many physician resources. In other words we could provide equally good (or probably better) care while using many many fewer physician “inputs”. Hence overall we need fewer physicians, more efficiently used.
But what Matt fails to address is the number of specialists. Obviously if many Americans have unfettered access to specialists, the number of tests and procedures will be much larger. So while in an ideal world we would just scrap a large number of doctors and med school spots, that's clearly not going to happen. One thing that can change in terms of expensive supply, however, is providing greater incentives to encourage more newly minted M.D.'s to head into internal medicine or become general practitioners.
That requires fee and reimbursement adjustments, but Medicare could easily lead the way. As it is, doctors get paid more when they order things. Increasing payment for good health status or for general visits that don't involve ordering tests (i.e. I have a fever and need antibiotics) would encourage more doctors to become GPs. We could even go so far as to substantially discount tuition for doctors that promise to become internists.
Or you can go another route, which involves greater responsibilities for Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants. Their labor is cheaper and plenty capable for general check ups.