Primary care physicians are going to be a “critical phase” of Obamacare, according to the Washington Post, a statement which makes the following statistic pretty disconcerting:
Of the more than 8,000 physicians licensed to work in the nation’s capital, only 453 are primary care doctors who spend more than 20 hours a week seeing patients, according to a report released Wednesday by the D.C. Board of Medicine.
Six days ahead of Obamacare’s implementation, when Americans lacking health insurance will be able to have the chance to sign up for coverage under the new government-run exchanges, some expect the lack of primary physicians in the nation’s capital to be extremely costly.
“It’s likely that will put the squeeze on, and being able to see a primary care doctor is going to get worse,” said Janis Orlowski, board chair.
Bloomberg reports on similar concerns at the Holy Cross Hospital health center in Aspen Hill, Maryland:
The increase in newly insured patients arrives at a time when the nation has 15,230 fewer primary-care doctors than it needs, according to an Aug. 28 assessment by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And emergency rooms report being strained with visits that have risen at twice the rate of population growth.
“It’s like we’re handing out bus tickets and the bus is already full,” said Perry Pugno, vice president for medical education at the American Academy of Family Physicians, by telephone. “The shortfall of primary-care access is not an insignificant problem, and it’s going to get worse.”
"Going to get worse." Seems like a trend, doesn't it? The anxiety caused by a lack of primary doctors is not limited to the nation’s capital and its neighbors. The shortage is a national trend, where nearly one in five Americans lives in a region that suffers a shortage of primary care physicians. What’s more, with some doctors retiring early and not enough people entering the field, it seems there will not be enough physicians to keep up with the increased demand.
But, by all means, as President Obama and former president Bill Clinton insisted at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting yesterday, “Sign up!”