Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

Personal physician shortage looms, experts say

To get much use from health coverage, patients need doctors, witnesses told Congress. (AP photo/Stuart Ramson)
To get much use from health coverage, patients need doctors, witnesses told Congress. (AP photo/Stuart Ramson)

One of the weaknesses of current U.S. health reform efforts is that they are counting on the idea that primary care doctors will continue to exist.

Witnesses delivered that message today in Washington at a hearing on the future of primary care that was organized by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) primary health and aging subcommittee.

Dr. Andrew Wilper, a medical school professor in Boise, Idaho, testified that the federal reimbursement formula system now pays primary care physicians about 30 percent to 60 percent less than it pays specialists.

In Massachusetts, a state that already has enacted a health insurance access expansion program, one result is that the coverage access program has led to an 82 percent in the length of time patients must wait to see primary care doctors, Wilper said.

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Nichole Morford

Nichole Morford
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