“One of the great misconceptions about Obamacare is that just because you have health insurance, you’ll therefore get adequate health care and you’ll have access to it. I think nothing could be further from the truth.” So warns Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a Washington physician, in an article by Jim Angle of Fox News.
The article notes that a doctor shortage — of more than 90,000 physicians by 2020 and a whopping 130,000 or more by 2025 — is inevitable because of the rate at which doctors born in the baby boom are retiring. “Some 10,000 baby boomers will retire every day for the next 19 years, including many doctors,” Angle writes.
This would be true even if Congress had not passed the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But the advent of the law’s implementation, which will add 30 million Americans to the health insurance rolls, exacerbates this shortage. With more people than ever seeking health providers, waits to see a doctor could be interminable — if you can find a doctor at all.
Jeff Cain, President of the American Academy of Family Physicians, is quoted as explaining:
We have an increasing population, we have more Americans that are getting older that need more health care. And with the 30 million Americans that are newly insured with the affordable health care act, more people are looking for primary care.
And as if the situation were already grim enough, Cain adds that “almost a third of family doctors in rural America are thinking about retiring in the next five years.”
And they’re not alone. Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank, notes that in addition to retiring baby boomer physicians, “there are a lot of doctors who are just so frustrated today with all the bureaucracy involved in taking care of patients that they’re retiring early.”
For a preview of how serious this shortage will become under Obamacare, John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas points to Massachusetts, noting that “in Boston right now, where they say have universal coverage, the wait for a patient to see a new doctor is two months — that’s the longest wait in the whole country.”
Another doctor, Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, laments:
The health care law put a lot of money into hiring more IRS agents to enforce the law, but not that same kind of focus on training more doctors and nurses and others to take care of patients.
Angle concludes by noting that several states have passed laws to let nurses and physician assistants play a more integral role in health care. But those efforts, he points out, won’t manufacture the tens of thousands of doctors needed to cover the tidal wave of new patients who will be seeking care just as an equally large number of doctors hang up their stethoscopes.