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You Have Health Care But No Doctor

April 12, 2010

American Medical News’ Kevin B. O’Reilly reports: ‘The health system reforms signed into law in March will cover an estimated 32 million uninsured patients by 2019. But there may not be enough physicians to care for them. The nation likely will see a shortage of about 160,000 physicians by 2025 — leaving too few to keep up with the flood of newly insured patients seeking care for long-neglected health problems. ‘It’s sort of a race against time,’ said Edward Salsberg, director of the Assn. of American Medical Colleges’ Center for Workforce Studies, whose 2025 physician supply estimate includes a shortage of 46,000 primary care physicians and 41,000 general surgeons, even after accounting for the supply of international medical graduates. … Work force experts and some physician leaders say health reform provisions and other efforts may not avert a crisis, given the crush of the newly insured. … [For example] Forty percent of Massachusetts family physicians no longer accept new patients, up from 30% in 2007, according to a June 2009 study by the state medical society. Nearly 60% of internists have stopped taking new patients, up from 49% in 2007. The average wait for an appointment with a primary care doctor in the state is 44 days.’

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