Wave of newly insured patients struggle to find primary care physicians as demand increases

Primary care doctors might be working longer hours, hiring more staff and relying on nurse practitioners, but the majority seem to be finding a way to keep up with the 6.7 million new patients under the Affordable Care Act.

One of the purposes of the new health law was connecting patients with primary care doctors to prevent them from landing in the emergency room.

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But a survey this year by The Physicians Foundation found that 81 percent of doctors describe themselves as either over-extended or at full capacity. Insurance companies are also limiting the number of doctors on their plans to cut costs.

There have been isolated reports of consumers struggling to get appointments. But experts say most patients are receiving the care they need, even if they have to drive farther, wait longer or see a nurse practitioner.