Doctor shortage in Oklahoma hampers affordable health care
As reported in Tulsa World, there is a current shortage of primary care doctors in Oklahoma. Over 70 counties do not meet the standard to have 1 general practioner per 3,500 patients. This can lead to high health care costs for consumers and long waits for appointments. This is a barrier for affordable health insurance, as well.
There are many facets that add up the costs of health care. A few such factors include gas, time and money involved in seeing your primary care physician (PCP). With Oklahoma State University (OSU) not being able to afford to train enough physicians, there will continue to be a doctor shortage in the state in the foreseeable future. If one cannot find a local PCP, he or she will have to travel to an office, sometimes up to fifty miles or more away for routine care.
This has hidden costs such as gas in the tank, wear and tear on vehicles necessitating costly car repairs and more frequent maintenance, as well as more time taken off from work to attend the appointment. Some residents are choosing to move where the doctors are which results in higher rents sometimes. But because the shortage is felt all over the state, patients are having to wait weeks and sometimes months for their regular appointments and are resorting to using the emergency room visits instead.
Not being able to see a doctor when illnesses first strike leads to more serious complications down the road. That means additional time off work and more costly tests and treatments. Some illnesses can be prevented with early intervention but will lead to death if a patient cannot access affordable health care.
All of the above contribute to the higher health care costs and higher health insurance premiums for everyone making affordable health care that much further from reach.