Physicians shortage cramping even insureds' access to their care

With the primary-care shortage growing steadily worse, it's becoming more and more the case that simply having medical insurance is no guarantee of having easy access to primary-care services, according to a new report by CBS News. According to HHS, the U.S. is about 16,000 primary-care doctors behind demand. That's because while 26,000 doctors enter the workforce every year, only 6,500 enter primary care, unhappy about low starting salaries in the field.

Lack of access to primary care is continuing to exacerbate the crisis in U.S. emergency departments, which are seeing an increasing number of patients who don't need emergency medical services, experts say. "The majority of patients who are frequent utilizers of the emergency department actually have insurance," according to Dr. Niels Rathlev, who runs the ER at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts. "They have a primary-care physician, but they choose to come to the ER because they don't have access."

To learn more about the growing primary care access problem:
- read this Kaiser Health News piece

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