Readers of this blog will recognize the following three previous posts, “Will Medical Tourism Relieve the Doctor Shortage Due to Obamacare?” from 2013, “Affordable Care Act to Lead to Physician Shortages ― What it Could Mean for Medical Tourism in Work Comp” from 2014, and “New Report on Doctor Shortage: What it could mean for Workers’ Comp and Medical Tourism” earlier this year, in which I discussed the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as “Obamacare” on the predicted shortage of primary-care physicians.
Today, Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, and David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “ How Primary-Care Physicians Are Handling the Influx of Newly Insured.”
According to Altman and Blumenthal, most physicians in primary-care said that their ability to provide high-quality care had not changed since January 2014.
Altman and Blumenthal included a graph showing the percentages of physicians who were polled by Kaiser and the Commonwealth fund on their ability to provide high-quality care.
The survey found that, so far, the fears of problems have largely not come to pass. However, physicians did report increased demand for services under the ACA; four in ten (44%) said that the total number of patients they see had increased since January 2041.
Six in ten, or (59%), reported an increase in the number of patients who were newly insured or covered by Medicaid, but this was not swamping their practice.
The chart shows that 59% said their ability to provide care had stayed the same, 20% said that it had improved and gotten worse.
Altman and Blumenthal concluded their article by saying that not yet two years into the coverage expansion of the ACA, it is still too early to know what effect will be, long-term, on the demand for services.
It could also be, they said, that the net increase of 16 million newly insured is less of a burden than expected; however, they concluded by saying that primary-care providers have been able to keep up demand without any negative impact.
Whether this remains so, is yet to be determined, but so far, it appears that there is no nationwide crisis.