Doctor shortage frustrating New Mexicans

Created: 02/24/2014 6:42 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It's getting a lot harder to see your doctor.

You could be left waiting for weeks for an appointment or shutout by New Mexico doctors who are simply not taking any more new patients.

Susan Caruthers-Jones is one of the many New Mexicans frustrated by the wait to get professional care, which is why she exercises every day-to keep the doctor away.

"They could get me in within a couple of days," she said "Now it's taking me six weeks."

The state Health Policy Commission reports New Mexico has 1,429 active primary physicians, but the state still needs another 219 to provide for the population.

Doctor Melanie Marshall says "Obamacare" is creating a ripple effect causing people who have never had healthcare before to come in for checkups or unnecessary visits.

"There are so many slots in a day and you don't have enough people to cover the volume," Dr. Marshall said.

She says she dropped many health insurance providers because she doesn't have enough staff to collect on the insurance money. She says the new healthcare laws made insurance work a headache and charges an upfront price to be seen which isn't as profitable for her clinic compared to her competitors.

"Oh heaven sakes no!" she said, "But I do it because I like what I do. The money is not the issue. We just have to make enough to keep going."

Doctor Marshall says she gets the overflow of patients who do not want to wait.

"They realize that if they have me they can come in and get seen the same day," she said, "If they go somewhere else they won't.

Doctor Marshall says as a result of the long waits, New Mexicans are going to urgent-care, emergency rooms or ignoring their health problems altogether.

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