Obamacare was expected to improve access to primary care physicians for all Americans, by increasing medicaid and subsidized coverage.
Instead emergency rooms across America have become flooded with patients, because there are not enough primary care physicians to accommodate the influx of new patients and many physicians are refusing to accept medicaid due to its low reimbursement.
This leaves many Americans with no option but to go to the emergency room for medical care, even when it's not a true emergency. This rise in the amount of ER visits is putting a huge stress on many emergency rooms, as they struggle to care for real emergencies and patients who would be better served at a family practice.
A recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians reveals that 28% of 2,099 doctors that were surveyed nationally saw a huge increase in the volume, while 47% saw a small increase. Last year the Affordable Care Act reported less than half of the doctors reported any increase.
There is also a shortage in primary care physicians and by 2020 the federal government projects the shortage to exceed 20,000.
The number of patients visiting emergency rooms is expected to increase before leveling off. Patient who have exhausted all efforts to schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor realize that the only option is the ER. Many physicians have a four (or more) week waiting list for new patient appointments. Emergency rooms don't ask for payment up front and they see patients almost immediately. Although a single visit to the ER can cost at least $500 more than a primary care visit, it's not stopping patients from flocking to ERs in droves.
What do you think about this issue? Comment below!