POSTED: Monday, September 14, 2009 - 5:14pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 2:50am
TYLER-The President's health care plan has some big obstacles. The biggest is how to pay for millions of Americans who can't afford insurance and if would there be enough doctors to see all the new patients?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, we'll need to add 40,000 more to the 100,000 doctors we have right now over the next decade.
Dr. Angela Cade is the kind of physician advocates say the country needs right now.
"I love the patient population and I love taking care of newborns all the way up to the elderly," Cade said.
Now in her first year of residency she has decided to listen to a different drummer.
"I had 200 in my medical school class and only 7 of them went into family medicine," Cade said.
Dr. Jonathan MaClements, Director of Medical Education at the University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center, said more new doctors want to specialize.
"Historically there has been a shortage of and lack of interest in primary health care," said MaClements. "This is mostly because of the concerns in paying back student loans."
A recent study shows if the current pattern continues, the country will have about 160,000 fewer doctors than it needs by 2025. The most in need of these kinds of doctors will be people living in rural communities.
If the Obama health care reform passes, those who are uninsured will also have to see these doctors.
Dr. Barbara Allen with Trinity Mother Francis in Tyler said her biggest worry is primary doctors getting burned out and going into specialty medicine.
Dr. Allen said on average, for a 10 minutes check-up with your physician, means an hour of paperwork doctors are required to fill out.
"Everybody goes into primary care because they want to take care of patients for the right reasons," Dr. Allen said.
Dr. Allen said her main concern is people may start putting off visits for basic illnesses and then could become seriously ill. Also she worries patients might just skip their doctor visit all together and go to the emergency room.
"That's a huge cost to the patient and to the system and its starting to create a backlog of patients and longer waiting times for patients that need rapid attention."
To help solve the problem, financial incentives for primary doctors will need to become a must. And creating easier access to places like direct cares where people can come in and be treated by someone like a nurse practitioner will help cut down on the amount of wait time at the doctor's office.