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There may be a shortage of primary healthcare providers

Category: General Wellness

Researchers at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that with the potential influx of patients due to President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA), primary care physicians who may provide services such as cholesterol tests and blood tests may not be able or willing to take on additional patients.

"This study raises very serious concerns about the willingness and ability of primary care providers to cope with the increased demand for services that will result from the ACA," said research investigator Eric G. Campbell, PhD, of the Mongan Institute. "Even with insurance, it appears that many patients may find it challenging to find a physician to provide them with primary care services."

As part of the study, the researchers looked at a 2009 survey that sought to find the percentage of physicians' patients who were either uninsured or were covered by Medicaid. It also asked about the healthcare providers' willingness to take on more patients in this demographic, as well as their willingness to partake in programs that would help improve the quality of their practices.

While 840 doctors responded to the survey, 53 percent were classified as "safety-net providers," meaning more than 20 percent of their patients were uninsured or were covered by Medicaid. Out of all the safety-net physicians, only 72 percent said that they would take on additional Medicaid patients and 61 percent indicated that they would take on patients with no health insurance. According to the 2012 Current Population Survey Report, in 2011, nearly 48 million people in the U.S. were uninsured.

The study investigators reported that the results show that there may not be enough safety-net, primary care physicians to take on the increased number of patients. Research author Lenny López, M.D., M.P.H., M.D.iv., of the Mongan Institute also reported that before this study, the medical community was aware of the need for increased resources, but the results emphasize how critical that need is.

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