Among the many predictions of Obamacare-related catastrophe was that the law, by enabling millions to join the ranks of the insured, would force us all to wait longer to see a doctor and very possibly lead to a code blue for U.S. health care.
“Doctor shortage, increased demand could crash health care system,” A CNN report warned last October.
A few months earlier, a Forbes headline predicted that, “Thanks to Obamacare, a 20,000 Doctor Shortage Is Set to Quintuple.”
“America is suffering from a doctor shortage,” wrote Forbes blogger Sally Pipes, president of the Koch brothers-funded Pacific Research Institute, a think tank advocating “personal responsibility” and “free-market policy solutions.” “An influx of millions of new patients into the healthcare system will only exacerbate that shortage — driving up the demand for care without doing anything about its supply.”
Pipes cited numbers from a 2010 analysis conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges. But unlike Pipes’ organization, which says the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, the AAMC called the law’s expansion of coverage “long overdue.” The doctor shortage would be alleviated, the AAMC says, if rather then repealing Obamacare, Congress would lift a freeze in Medicare’s support for physician-training positions that has been in effect since 1997.
It’s true that the number of doctors per capita in the U.S. likely will continue to decrease, especially in rural areas. But even though an estimated 13 million Americans have become newly insured since the first of this year, the predictions of the gloom-and-doomers have not panned out.
To find out if the critics’ were prescient or way off base, Kaiser Health News reporter Phil Galewitz went looking for problems. He didn’t find many. “Five months into the biggest expansion of health coverage in 50 years,” he wrote after interviewing officials from more than two dozen health centers and multi-group practices across the country, “there are few reports of patients facing major delays getting care.”
This story is part of Wendell Potter. Former CIGNA executive-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter writes about the health care industry and the ongoing battle for health reform. Click here to read more stories in this blog.
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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.