profession

Primary care shortage evident in Connecticut

Waiting times could get worse once patients newly insured under federal health reform begin seeking physician care.

By Kevin B. O’Reilly — Posted May 11, 2010

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Nearly one in four Connecticut primary care physicians is refusing to take on new patients, according to a survey of the state's family doctors, internists and pediatricians.

For those primary care doctors who are accepting new patients, there's an 18-day wait for a routine office visit, said the study, while existing patients wait more than 13 days

The survey of nearly 500 primary care physicians was conducted in fall 2009. It points to the challenge the state's doctors will face in caring for patients obtaining insurance under the federal health reform law, said Audrey Honig Geragosian, co-author of the study published in the May Connecticut Medicine (link).

"One of the most noteworthy results of this research was to find such a high proportion of primary care physicians aren't accepting new patients today, before any sort of reform of any kind comes into play," said Geragosian, communications director at the Connecticut State Medical Society, which publishes Connecticut Medicine. "That suggests a scarcity of access today, and when you add more patients to those panels, then the problem gets worse."

Because so many doctors already refuse new patients, the burden on those with open panels will be even higher, the study found. Researchers examined the uninsured rate among adults younger than 65 in each county in the state and calculated how many patients each primary care physician still accepting new patients might have to accept. In Fairfield County, Conn., each primary care doctor would be responsible for an additional 186 patients who are now uninsured. In Tolland County, Conn., the figure was 484.

Connecticut has 89.4 active primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, according to the Assn. of American Medical Colleges' November 2009 work force report. That is slightly above the national average of 79.4 per 100,000.

But problems go beyond work force issues, Geragosian said. The physicians surveyed reported trouble dealing with insurers on claims and referrals. More than 30% said they thought about moving to another state to practice, and nearly one-fifth said they might become hospitalists or make some other career change. The medical society is pushing for administrative simplifications and medical liability reforms.

"Something has to give," Geragosian said. "Something has to change, or it will become harder and harder for patients to get the care they need and deserve and our physicians want to provide."

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story