Desperate for Doctors
Will Obamacare deliver access to physicians for poor Kern residents?

About this project

One year from now, tens of thousands of uninsured Kern County residents will celebrate the bounty of health reform – they will finally have a chance at health insurance. That’s when Medi-Cal, a publicly funded health program for low-income and disabled residents, will expand statewide, bringing the promise of coverage to perhaps 1 million more Californians. But many local doctors and health care leaders fear that the promise may be hollow. In Kern, they say, it’s already difficult for poor residents to find a doctor when they need one, and that doctors and clinics already are overwhelmed. It’s a situation that could worsen, they fear, with the addition of thousands of new patients.

Stories

For one family, health care means a four-hour drive

For 13-year-old Devin Vallejo of Oildale, visiting a specialist for his juvenile diabetes means a two-hour drive each way to the children’s hospital in Madera.

What the experts say about doctor access in Kern County

“For so many millions of Americans, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will be a little bit frustrating. They will have the card, they will have this new coverage.

Will Obamacare solve doctor access for Kern County poor?

One year from now, tens of thousands of uninsured Kern County residents will celebrate the bounty of health reform — they will finally have a chance at health insurance.

Authors

Emily Bazar

Emily Bazar is a columnist and senior writer for the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, part of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Her column, “Ask Emily,” addresses readers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act. It appears in more than 25 newspapers and NPR affiliate websites across California, including the Daily News of Los Angeles, The Sacramento Bee, The Orange County Register, the Fresno Bee and the Riverside Press-Enterprise. The column is consumer-driven, and has generated more than 1,500 direct questions and comments to askemily@usc.edu and hundreds more to the newspaper and NPR affiliate sites where it appears. In her role as Ask Emily, Bazar also regularly appears on KPCC’s Take Two and AirTalk,  KQED’s Forum, KALW’s Your Call  and Valley Public Radio. Outside of Ask Emily, she covers stories about Medi-Cal, children’s dental care and variation in the use of medical treatments. Her reporting on Medi-Cal’s troubled children’s dental program was awarded the 2011 California Journalism Award for Special Feature/Enterprise Reporting. Prior to joining the Center for Health Reporting, Bazar was a national reporter for USA TODAY, where she covered immigration, the effects of the economic recession and other topics....

Project Partners

© 2014 California Healthcare Foundation Center for Health Reporting

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