Driven by a flurry of newly-insured individuals, the doctor shortage in rural Washington state is getting even worse, Kaiser Health News reports. Residents are being forced to drive as far 70 miles to see a primary care doctor, and wait lists allegedly have hundreds of name on them.
Rural areas have always been particularly susceptible to the nationwide doctor shortage, which stands at about 45,000 today but could grow to more than 100,000 by next decade. Just 10% of doctors service rural regions even though 25% of the U.S. population live in these very regions.
But Obamacare could also be the ticket – or at least part of the ticket – to mollifying the doc shortage. The health law includes special grants and incentives for training primary care doctors that are already in use in Washington. Funding for many of these programs dries up at year’s end, but some legislators believe it will be possible to extend the programs.
Read more at Kaiser Health News.