Current Doctor Shortage To Be Made Even Worse by Obamacare

Sunday, 29 Jul 2012 11:24 AM

By Patrick Hobin

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The existing doctor shortage throughout the country will only be made worse by Obamacare when it kicks in, The New York Times reported.

In 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. By 2025, with aging baby boomers needing more care, the shortage will more than double, the Times reported, citing estimates by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists,” Dr. G. Richard Olds told the Times. Dr. Olds is the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage. “We’ll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does.”

The Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, the Mississippi Delta, Detroit and suburban Phoenix, are facing shortages. Health experts, including Obamacare supporters, say there is little that the government will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans.

The doctor shortage manifests itself not by stopping care altogether but by a slower and more difficult process, the Times reported. In Riverside, Calif., for example, “it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care,” the Times reported.

“It results in delayed care and higher levels of acuity,” Dustin Corcoran, the chief executive of the California Medical Association, told the Times. People “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.”

Medicare officials predict baby boomer enrollment will surge to 73.2 million in 2025, up 44 percent from 50.7 million this year, according to the Times.

“Older Americans require significantly more health care,” Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, the president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the paper. “Older individuals are more likely to have multiple chronic conditions, requiring more intensive, coordinated care.”

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