The introduction of Obamacare last year has resulted in a surge of visits to emergency rooms. That’s the finding of a new survey of more than 2,000 American doctors.
The survey, which was carried out by the American College of Emergency Physicians, reveals that almost one in three of the 2,099 emergency room doctors surveyed said they saw large increases in the number of patients visiting them since the introduction of Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, last year. Another 47-percent of doctors said they saw a slight increase in patient visits.
Compare that to the period shortly before Obamacare’s introduction, when less than half of all doctors reported any increase in the number of patients visiting them.
Although most health experts admit it’s a good thing that more people can access medical care, there are widespread concerns about emergency rooms becoming overwhelmed with the surge in patients. One major goal of Obamacare was to alleviate pressure on ERs by giving people better access to primary care.
Clearly, that isn’t the way it’s working out. Mike Gerardi, an ER doctor in New Jersey, says the problem is that there simply aren’t enough primary care physicians out there.
“They don’t have anywhere to go but the emergency room,” he says. “This is what we predicted. We know people come because they have to.”
The problem is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Right now the U.S. federal government estimates that there will be a shortage of 20,000 primary care doctors by 2020–forcing even more people into emergency rooms.