If you have a medical problem that requires a specialist, you’re going to have to wait. That’s the message of Dr. Mitchell Forman, a rheumatologist in Las Vegas. It’s a message being felt across the nation. Too many doctors are part of the age wave and as their patients retire, so are they. One in three doctors is older than 55 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That’s leaving the nation, even in large population centers, with an estimated shortage of more than 13,000 doctors. That shortfall is expected to grow ten-fold within the next 12 years. Some experts are predicting that as the Affordable Care Act causes as many as 30 million more people to be insured that the problem will increase dramatically.
For hospitals trying to avoid Medicare fines for readmitting patients before 30 days, the long wait times means that some patients don’t get the follow up care with their primary care physician and end up back in the hospital emergency room.
For seniors hoping to find a geriatric doctor, the sooner they begin looking for one, the better their chances of ever getting one.
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