But, so far, the nation's primary care system is doing fine.
[T]he nation's primary care system is handling the increased number of insured patients without major problems so far, according to interviews with community health centers, large physician practices and insurers nationwide.Mostly, there are extended wait times for people who've been enrolled in expanded Medicaid in those states. The fact that 5 million people didn't get Medicaid because of all the states which refused to expand it accounts for a good part of the lower-than-expected demand. But some of the predictions of long wait times were based on the Massachusetts experience, where wait times for doctors appointments "rose to an average of 50 days with some as long as 100 days, according to a Massachusetts Medical Society report in 2008." But these researchers note that Massachusetts already had very long wait times before the reform law, so it's not really predictive of the rest of the country.
Five months into the biggest expansion of health coverage in 50 years—with about 13 million people enrolled in private insurance and Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act—there are few reports of patients facing major delays getting care, say officials from more than two-dozen health centers and multigroup practices, as well as insurers and physician groups in nine big states.
Some exceptions have surfaced, particularly in parts of Colorado, Kentucky and Washington state, which had some of the biggest gains in coverage.
The primary health care system had three years to gear up for Obamacare, and the law included billions for expanding community health centers, which are picking up much of the Medicaid demand. Private providers had time to staff up with nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.
Because of the huge surge in late enrollments, there could still be a big hiccup coming in primary care, but it will be just that. A hiccup. It won't be health care armageddon in which no one gets to see their doctor in time.