National

Mar 29, 2010 11:43 AM by Associated Press

Health overhaul likely to strain doctor shortage

It could be a lot tougher finding a doctor in the next few years.

Primary care physicians already are in short supply in parts of the country. And with the landmark health overhaul law, newly insured patients will put an extra strain on the supply.

Only 30 percent of U.S. doctors currently practice primary care. The government says 65 million people live in areas designated as having a shortage of primary care physicians.

And recently published reports predict a shortfall of about 40,000 primary care doctors over the next decade. It's a field losing out to the better pay and hours of many other specialties.

Provisions in the new law do aim to reverse the trend, offering things such as bonus payments for certain physicians.

Nationally, the big surge for primary care won't start until 2014, when the bulk of the 32 million uninsured start coming online.

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