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Some Obamacare patients find themselves in state of ‘medical homelessness’

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The analogy sounds sort of extreme until you read about the plight of patients who signed up for Obamacare via the state exchange with the largest number of enrollees nationwide.

CBS affiliate KPIX reports that many of the newly insured under Covered California are finding that no doctors — zilch, nada — are available through their plans, casting them into a nightmarish state that a health care practitioner at the University of California at San Francisco describes as “medical homelessness.”

Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand.

Mirella Nguyen works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic.

But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help. “They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor, “said Nguyen.

Thinn Ong was thrilled to qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchange. She is paying $200 a month in premiums. But the single mother of two is asking, what for?

“Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,” said a frustrated Ong.

Kevin Grumbach, the doctor who coined the phrase “medical homelessness,” told reporters:

Insurance coverage is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to assure that people get access to care when they need it.

Nguyen echoes that sentiment, asking, “What good is coverage if you can’t use it?”

As if the problem wasn’t already serious enough, experts predict it will soon be felt by all Californians, more than 3 million of whom reportedly are newly insured.

If they can’t find a doctor now, imagine how much worse off they’ll be once the third of the state’s primary care doctors set to retire finalizes its plans.

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