By Stephanie Diffin
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - On Tuesday, health care coverage will become available to millions of uninsured Americans. The most critical portion of the Affordable Care Act is taking effect, and area doctors are preparing to answer the call.
Downtown Urgent Care patient Richard Kalian says he doesn't generally have a problem getting in to see a doctor. And he doesn't expect that to change. Even though he's opposed to some parts of the Affordable Care Act, he's happy his primary care physician will be seeing more patients.
"I think primary care is where people need to go before they end up in the emergency room," said Kalian.
Dr. Sonny Saggar agrees, but he knows the change is about to make him quite a bit busier.
"I'm no stranger to working like a crazy man, as my wife will tell you," said Saggar. "But I think that where there's a will there's a way."
And Dr. Saggar says the way to handle more patients is to hire more staff. He's already started in hopes that he won't have to turn away new patients.
"I don't think any doctor wants to do that," said Dr. Saggar.
But he says some practices may have to turn down patients if they get too overloaded. That's because right now, many uninsured patients head to the emergency room when they should be seeing a family doctor. But that's about to change.
"Doctors probably, if they're willing to, will be working longer hours and having more staff," said Dr. Saggar.
And, more practices may soon start popping up. It's what is keeping Kalian confident the doctor will still be in when he needs him.
"I think it's wonderful that people will be able to go to primary care," said Kalian.
We reached out to a few major health care providers, who also tell us they're preparing for more patients. SSM Health Care also says it's in the process of getting staff members certified to help people through the insurance process.
While the HealthCare Marketplace goes on line next week, coverage won't take effect until the first of the year.