Great! Just what we need, doctor shortages.
It is no surprise at all that millions more Americans are expected to seek medical treatment under the recently enacted Affordable Care Law (Obamacare). That fact alone makes it certain that American Citizens will find it more difficult to access a doctor.
According to available statistics, approximately 20 percent of Americans currently reside in locations throughout the U.S. where there are insufficient numbers of primary care physicians. Almost 30 percent live in areas that are short of mental health providers.
As bad as that stat is, shockingly, two states have a much worse problem. In Louisiana and Mississippi, more than half the population live in areas with too few healthcare providers, according to Stateline, a Pew Charitable Trusts publication.
Massive Doctor Shortfall Predicted
Furthermore, The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) now estimates the possibility of a shortage of 45,000 primary care doctors in the United States by 2020. Add to that a shortfall of 46,000 specialists and it becomes a medical crisis of massive proportions.
2020 is only six years away. Making up the shortfall is all but impossible. Of course, we could steal them from other countries, such as Africa.
Many primary care doctors already refuse Medicaid patients, because the reimbursement rates are so low that it makes seeing those patients uneconomic for doctors and their staff. The number of people seeking a smaller number of doctors is expected to dramatically increase when the newly signed Obamacare insured are covered through Medicaid.
Long waits to to obtain a doctor appointment are predicted for the 36 million new people expected to sign up for Obamacare.
According to Stateline, in the next decade, the number of baby boomers reaching 65 will increase by 36 percent while the number of doctors will rise by only 7 percent.
Making the situation worse, we are already hearing that many physicians are choosing to retire rather than face the added headaches and paperwork the new law brings. It is thought that fewer medical students will be opting for primary care in favor of specialties.
“A steady stream of negative attention has made medicine in general a far less attractive career choice than it once was. Insurance headaches, pricey technologies, long hours and the risk of liability have convinced many talented students to eschew medicine as a career choice,” Stateline noted.
Dentists Affected Too
The bad news extends to the dental profession, although over the past few years, there has been something of an oversupply of dentists in many places.
Linda Rosenberg, president of the National Council for Behavioral Health says, “… people are going to suffer.”
Is it too much to ask that Congress pays attention to this before it’s too late?