Doctor shortage will only worsen under 'Obamacare'
There won't be enough medical help for 30 million additional Americans by 2014
It takes roughly 10 years to make a qualified doctor. It's just a matter
of math to say there won't be enough doctors to take care of the
additional 30 million Americans by 2014. For many, coverage will not
necessarily translate into care: There are not enough doctors for
Under a severe shortage of qualified medical help, patients will still get care, but in a slow and difficult manner.
Even the staunchest supporters of Obamacare say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans.
"We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists," Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside says. "We'll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does."
Under a severe shortage of qualified medical help, patients will still get care, but in a slow and difficult manner. In Riverside, California, the shortage has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, and the overuse of emergency rooms and even the forgoing of medical care.
"It results in delayed care and higher levels of acuity," said Dustin Corcoran, the chief executive of the California Medical Association says. Patients "access the health care system through the emergency department, rather than establishing a relationship with a primary care physician who might keep them from getting sicker."
The growth in the number of physicians has lagged in Riverside is also due in no small part because the area has trouble attracting doctors, who might make more money in nearby Orange County or Los Angeles.
A government council has recommended that a given region have 60 to 80 primary care doctors per 100,000 residents, and 85 to 105 specialists. The Inland Empire has about 40 primary care doctors and 70 specialists per 100,000 residents - the worst shortage in California, in both cases.
Nationwide, fewer than half of primary care clinicians were accepting new Medicaid patients as of 2008, making it hard for the poor to find care even when they are eligible for Medicaid. The expansion of Medicaid accounts for more than one-third of the overall growth in coverage in President Obama's health care law.
Doctors say they are battening down for the surge of the newly insured into an already strained system.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Dctor shortage, Obamacare, patients, 2014
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