(SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE) Roughly 4 million additional Californians are expected to obtain health insurance by 2014 through the federal health law, an expansion that will likely exacerbate the state’s doctor shortage and could even squeeze primary care access in the Bay Area, experts say.
Even without the Affordable Care Act, a worsening doctor shortage had been forecast as the state’s and nation’s population ages and grows, and as a generation of older doctors retires. But by mandating that individuals have insurance and expanding Medicaid, the law will extend coverage to an additional 30 million Americans and place a greater strain on the physician workforce, especially for primary care.
“Now with the Affordable Care Act, we’re going to have an even greater need,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina (Los Angeles County), chairman of the Senate Health Committee. The need for more primary care doctors is addressed in the federal health law through various financial incentives, and California’s medical schools and hospitals are putting a greater emphasis on primary care training and expanding residency programs. But the effects of such efforts may not be felt for years.