The nation's highest court has spoken, but the battle over President Obama's health care reform law is far from over. When more than 30 million Americans get medical insurance, will we have enough doctors to treat them?
The President's plan will give more people access to health coverage. But, some physicians say with a doctor shortage in Kern County, the plan could lead to longer wait times at your doctor's office.
Ina Summit has a sinus infection. She came to her family physician, Dr. Hemmal Kothary, for a check-up. "I think people wait a long time to see doctors as it is, and I think this is going to push us to wait longer," said Summit.
If thousands of people in Kern County get medical insurance in 2014, there will be a bigger demand for physicians. Doctors will see more patients and wait times may increase. On top of that, doctors will likely see cuts in reimbursements.
"The problem is, if you are seeing more patients in a certain amount of time, the quality will have to go down. You have to compromise somewhere. We all joke about what's going on in Canada, but it's becoming a reality in the United States now," said Dr. Kothary.
There is a nationwide doctor shortage and it is expected to get worse. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates there will be a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015. That number will increase to 130,000 by 2025.
"Medicine is going to change drastically in the next few years. Medical schools have seen a decline in applicants. People are retiring now that don't want to put up with the system," explained Dr. Kothary.
But, some doctors are more optimistic about President Obama's plan for health reform.
"For being the United States of America, we have to find a way to take care of everyone that lives here," said Dr. Carlos Alvarez, Internist.
Dr. Carlos Alvarez owns Valley Medical Group. The Bakersfield clinic serves people with and without insurance. He said the President's plan will allow doctors to detect and treat diseases earlier in people who were once uninsured.
"A patient that has a tumor in the lung and doesn't have insurance, what do we do? I'm talking about a person who had a job one year, two years ago. Now, they don't have insurance. I want to send them on to higher levels of care and that is something we don't have right now," continued Dr. Alvarez.
Republicans have already scheduled a July 11th vote to get rid of what they call "ObamaCare."