By Hank Silverberg
How long does it take you to get an appointment with your doctor? If the Affordable Care Act goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014, as planned, bringing an estimated 20 million people into the health care system, it could take longer.
The shortage of general practitioners, or family doctors, has been getting worse over the last few years. Several recent studies indicate the country could be 55,000 doctors short by 2020.
Half of the current general practice doctors are older than 50 and nearing retirement as demand increases from the aging baby-boom population.
Physician assistants, or PAs, have been helping fill the gap, handling many routine checkups at practices across the county.