Naturopaths Can Fill Shortage in Primary Care

Most people agree, the shortage in primary care doctors is a real problem. Here are some statistics from a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News:

  • Two to 4 million Californians, and 32 million people nationally, will obtain insurance in 2014 under the national health reform law.
  • The nation will need 45,000 additional primary care doctors within 7 years, including 2,000 or more in California.
  • Nearly one-third of all physicians are expected to retire in the next decade, just as more Americans seek care.
  • Only about 20 percent of American medical students go into primary care, according to the Council on Graduate Medical Education.

So, what can we do about this? How about making it possible for a group of licensed doctors, already trained in primary care and excited be in this role, to gain the legal recognition necessary to fulfill this need on a national level. There are perhaps 400-500 naturopaths graduating every year from accredited schools, but most graduates end up moving to one of the 17 states where naturopathic doctors are currently licensed. By creating legal recognition on a nationwide scale, naturopathic doctors would be able to spread out and help meet the need for primary care doctors throughout the nation. If your state does not already license and regulate naturopathic medicine, contact your legislators and let them know you want access to licensed Naturopathic Doctors.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act states that insurance companies must allow you to choose to receive medical services from any practitioner licensed to provide that care. Many insurance companies are still not following the law. If your insurance company does not cover naturopathic services ask them why they are not following the Affordable Care Act. You can also find out more about legislative advocacy by going to the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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