Health reform predicted to increase need for primary care providers

Mar 25, 2011 By Amy Sutton

Expansion of health care coverage mandated by health reform will push demand for primary care providers sharply upward, and thousands of new physicians are necessary to accommodate the increase, a new study finds.

“Health care consumers should expect that in the period immediately following the coverage expansion, they may experience some difficulties getting timely appointments. It really depends where they are located geographically and how quickly those who obtain coverage pursue care,” said study co-author Jean Marie Abraham, Ph.D.

Using 2006 and 2007 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a survey that included 33,768 adults and 17,572 children, and other sources, Abraham and colleagues predicted state-by-state annual increases in visits as the result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed into law in 2010. The legislation extends to an estimated 32 million uninsured people in the United States.

Overall, the authors expect the number of annual primary care visits to rise by about 15 million to 24 million visits by 2019. These increases only take into account the health care coverage expansion, not other factors that could increase annual primary care visits, such as the aging population, the authors say.

The study appears in the latest issue of the journal The Milbank Quarterly.

“Places that have a high percentage of uninsured will have the biggest increase in demand and will experience the biggest shock to the delivery system,” said Abraham, a health economist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Of the states, California, Texas and New York will experience the largest increases in demand and use of providers.

For consumers, the effect of expanded coverage differs depending on your perspective. “If you have wanted to get insurance and couldn’t get it, it’s good news. If you have health insurance and an established relationship with a physician, you won’t see any change. If you are looking for a new primary care physician, you may find longer waits,” said Robert Field, Ph.D., a professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia. He has no affiliation with the study.

To cover the increases, the authors predict that between 4,307 and 6,943 more primary care physicians will be necessary. However, Field said, “they don’t take into account the number of positions that will be filled by non-physician clinicians, such as nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. We’ll undoubtedly be seeing more of that.”

Explore further: Jamaica Senate starts debate on pot decriminalization bill

More information: Hofer AN, et al. Expansion of coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and primary care utilization. Milbank Q 89(1), 2011. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10… 09.2011.00620.x/full

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

California healthcare shoratge detailed in new report

Oct 29, 2010

When you get sick and exhaust all your home remedies and family's advice, chances are you go see a doctor. A good old-fashioned doctor who whips off his stethoscope to listen to your heart and lungs, who asks you to say "ahhhhh" ...

A need for leadership in primary care

Sep 30, 2009

Community health centers have become the centerpiece of the nation's efforts to provide access to primary care for all and therefore experience a greater need for primary care providers, who already are in short supply. According ...

Recommended for you

Jamaica Senate starts debate on pot decriminalization bill

Jan 30, 2015

Jamaica's Senate on Friday started debating a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island where the drug ...

Can Lean Management improve hospitals?

Jan 30, 2015

Waiting times in hospital emergency departments could be cut with the introduction of Lean Management and Six Sigma techniques according to new research.

Research finds 90 percent of home chefs contaminate food

Jan 30, 2015

If you're gearing up for a big Super Bowl bash, you might want to consult the best food-handling practices before preparing that feast. New research from Kansas State University finds that most home chefs drop the ball on ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.