Lack of specialist options in healthcare marketplace affects RGV patients

Lack of specialist options in healthcare marketplace affects RGV patients
News Center 23
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 5:38pm

Federal lawmakers and regulators have been making complaints that marketplace insurers are not offering a wide enough range of doctors or hospitals to let consumers choose from.

But even though the issue regarding lack of specialist care options within the health insurance marketplace is being highlighted now, Flores says that has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act.

"I's not a consequence of the Affordable Care Act that this is happening," said Brownsville Community Health Center's marketing and development director Alex Flores. "It's just that, finally, the light has been shined on it because now that you have more insured patients, of course the demand is going to be greater."

Flores says for years now, there have been a projected 20,000+ doctor shortages. But on the flip side, doctors can choose to refuse to participate in certain coverage plans.

"You know we are continuously working to make sure that we increase the pool of doctors in the system," said Flores. "I know here at Brownsville Community Health Center it affects us. We are down two adult doctors and we struggle with that every year. When we lose a doctor it takes us on average a year to replace that doctor."

Because more people will be insured as time progresses, there will be a greater demand for healthcare specialists.

"Specialty care has always been a problem for us here in the Valley," said Flores. "Um, you know, one of the things we're doing to improve that is, I think within the next year or so, we're going to have our own medical school here in the Valley, which is going to mean we're going to have access to these trained professionals from our area who will most likely stay in our area, so that's another important step we're taking in the Valley."

But if Valley patients want to see a specialist, they better prepare to wait.

"It does take more time and they have to wait longer, but it's something that we've been doing for many many years, it's nothing something new to us." 

Reporting in Brownsville, Marty Watson, KVEO News Center 23.

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