Getting face time with the family doctor could soon become even harder.
A shortfall of primary care physicians in some parts of the country is expected to worsen as millions of newly insured Americans gain coverage next year when the federal health care law goes into full effect.
Patients could find it difficult to get quick appointments. Doctors could face a backlog.
Providers in impoverished inner cities and rural areas across the country say it already takes many months, years in some cases, to hire primary care doctors.
Many states have proposed expanding the medical duties of nurses and other health care professionals to help fill the gap.
As lawmakers struggle for answers, the shortage of primary care doctors is estimated to grow to almost 66,000 by 2025.