- Background The worldwide shortage of physicians is due not only to the lack of physicians, but also to complex social and economic factors that vary from country to country. Objective To describe the results of physician workforce planning in a system with unintended policy, such as Israel, based on past experience and predicted future trends, between 1995 and 2020. Methods A descriptive study of past (1995–2009) and future (through 2020) physician workforce trends in Israel. An actuarial equation was developed to project physician supply until 2020. Results In Israel a physician shortage is expected in the very near future. This finding is the result of global as well as local changes affecting the supply of physicians: change in immigration pattern, gender effect, population growth, and transparency of data on demand for physicians. These are universal factors affecting manpower planning in most industrial countries all over the world. Conclusion We describe a health care market with an unintended physician workforce policy. Sharing decision makers’ experience in similar health care systems will enable the development of better indices to analyze, by comparison, effective physician manpower planning processes, worldwide.