Obamacare: Missouri already has a shortage of primary care doctors. When Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) goes into effect on Jan.1, some say the ratio of patients to doctors will get even worse.
Glen Stubbe/The Star Tribune/AP/File
Jefferson City, Mo.
Missouri is facing a shortage of the primary care doctors. The strain could grow as more Missourians soon gain health insurance under the federal health care law.
"A lot of folks say that politics is the biggest threat to Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. I think the second biggest threat is the lack of primary care providers to serve the folks who are going to gain access to coverage," said Joe Pierle, CEO of the Missouri Primary Care Association that represents community health centers. "We can give everybody health insurance, but if they can't get in to a doctor, especially in rural Missouri, then we're really not making much progress."
Nationwide, the shortage of family doctors stems from a populace that is getting older and a desire by doctors to seek out specialties with better pay and hours. A shortfall of primary care doctors can mean more difficulty scheduling appointments and longer waits while reduced preventive care can push patients' health problems into chronic conditions. Clinics more frequently are using search firms to find practitioners.