Will healthcare reform overwhelm primary care docs?

With healthcare reform adding millions of people to insurance rolls, New York doctors fear the federal overhaul will overwhelm primary care physicians, the Associated Press reported.

"Primary care in New York is already at crisis level," Alan Diaz, an internist and past president of the Bronx Medical Society, told the AP. "When we get another million insured, I tell my residents, colleagues and patients, there will be no physician in New York to serve them."

In New York, 2.7 million people lack insurance and 615,000 individuals and 450,000 small-business employees will get coverage through its health insurance exchange in 2014, according to New York Department of Health data.

And the state's Medicaid program, which already covers 5.1 million people, will see about 75,000 more enrollees under reform's expansion, the AP noted.

The large influx of insured patients, coupled with looming physician shortages, is leaving physicians worried about meeting the demand for care.

Physician shortages are among the top five issues concerning doctors this year, according to the nonprofit Physicians Foundation. With 30 million new patients expected to enter the U.S. healthcare system, doctors worry there won't be enough of them to go around.

But primary care physicians, facing an estimated shortfall of 52,000 doctors by 2025, could get some relief in the form of retail clinics. By referring lower-acuity cases to retail clinics, doctors could make themselves available to provide more complex, higher-paying care, FiercePracticeManagement reported this week.

To learn more:
- here's the AP article