Waiting times to see a doctor; it depends on where you live says the Washington Post

Waiting times to see a doctor; it depends on where you live says the Washington Post

If you need to see a doctor as a new patient, you have likely been told that you have to wait a while, and in some cases a long while until you are given an appointment. This is true for primary physicians as well as certain specialties. One might think that the shortage of physicians will be worsened by Obamacare, since it adds many patients to the rolls, or does it? One would assume that as more people have insurance, they are likely to use it.

There are other ways to get a doctor visit though; for example, there are many walk in centers that have opened recently in NJ as well as other states to take care of your immediate medical needs, as an alternative to hospital emergency rooms. Many of these do not function as primary care offices, but act as emergency care centers. In other words, you still should find yourself a primary care doctor, especially if your plan requires one such as an HMO style plan.

On the other hand, many of the plans on the exchanges have high deductibles, which is likely to have patients thinking about whether they visit a doctor at all for any minor problem. The plans do however cover preventative care.

I have seen doctors such as cardiologists advertising for business, as well as primary care doctors in central NJ. That is a good thing since it means that you will likely be able to visit with a minimal wait, and some cardiologists have taken on primary care which is where more of the business is. That trend is better for our healthcare system since it brings more health care providers to the front lines.

Many classes of cost effective providers are still underutilized such as chiropractors, who are often a better place to visit for back, neck and problems of the extremities including the knees. They are primary care for the musculoskeletal system and people are often surprised how their way of thinking solves problems and prevents future problems in the joints of the body, when compared to the medical drugs and surgery approach, and it is safer too. They also are trained better than most people are aware of to diagnose and refer if a more life threatening condition exists, which is what primary care is all about. Patients with knee, back, hip, neck and even shoulder problems find chiropractors are often one stop shopping to properly diagnose and treat these painful problems cost effectively. The good news is that most chiropractors are willing to accommodate an emergency new patient immediately.

Check out the article here

Getting in to see a doctor takes time — a lot of time, it turns out

By Jenny Gold | Kaiser Health News, Published: January 29 | Updated: Monday, February 3, 11:16 PM

Need to see a doctor? You may have to wait.

A survey of physician practices in 15 metropolitan areas across the country found that the average wait time for a new patient to see a physician in five medical specialties was 18.5 days. The longest waits were in Boston, where patients wait an average of 72 days to see a dermatologist and 66 days to see a family doctor. The shortest were in Dallas, where the average wait time is 10.2 days for all specialties, and just 5 days to see a family doctor.

“We have too few providers, which is creating a significant access problem,” says Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins in Texas, which conducted the survey. The health care and physician search consulting firm spoke with 1,399 medical offices between June and November 2013 in five different areas of specialization: cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery and family practice. Researchers called the practices and asked for the first available appointments for new patients needing routine care, such as a heart check up or a well-woman visit.

The good news is that wait times actually decreased slightly, down from an average of 20.4 days when the survey was last conducted in 2009, and down from 20.9 days in 2004. Singleton attributes the slight improvement to practices employing more midlevel providers like nurse practitioners, better health care IT to help with scheduling and an increase in the number of urgent care centers.

Even Boston, which has eye-popping wait times, has gotten better. The city’s average wait time dropped from 70 days in 2009 to 46 days in 2013. That nearly brings it back to its level of 45 days in 2004 before Massachusetts adopted its version of health care reform.

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