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What Surge? Nation’s Primary Care System Holding Up Well So Far Under Obamacare


Still, Rhodes said that people around the country will face varied experiences because the supply of doctors is uneven and the number of newly insured also varies dramatically.

Molina Healthcare, a large managed care firm that covers mostly Medicaid patients and runs health clinics in six states, said it is managing patient demand without hitches so far.

“We have seen some increased use, but it’s not been a problem,” said J. Mario Molina, chief executive of the Long Beach, Calif.-based company.

Molina, whose Medicaid enrollment grew 11 percent to 2.2 million this year, said he expects his clinics to get busier as state agencies plow through their backlogs and send cards to new enrollees.

Too Early To See Surge

Some physician groups still believe there will be delays when the late enrollees and patients still waiting for cards filter into the system.

“We have not felt the full impact of it yet,” said David Fleming, president of the American College of Physicians. “We are going to see a substantial increase in volume and it is going to be a problem because there are not enough primary care doctors.”

That view may be borne out by the experience in states like Kentucky which saw thousands of people gain coverage due to a successful state exchange and Medicaid expansion.

At White House Clinics, a community health center with suburban and rural sites south of Lexington, patients with non-urgent problems are being asked to wait six weeks for an appointment.

But providers in Louisville say they have barely begun to see a difference.

“People are still learning about their new benefit,” said Bill Wagner, executive director of Family Health Centers. “We anticipate greater demand but it won’t be all at once. This will be a long slow buildup.” 

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Mon, May 12 2014

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