It is taking longer and longer for people to get in to see doctors.
Breitbart is reporting on the results of a new survey by Merritt Hawkins, a physician search firm, that reveal the length of time it is taking new patients to get in to see a doctor in 15 of America’s biggest cities has risen an extraordinary 30 percent – to an average of 24 days – since 2014.
Merritt Hawkins president Mark Smith said in statement, “Physician appointment wait times are the longest they have been since we began conducting the survey. Growing physician appointment wait times are a significant indicator that the nation is experiencing a shortage of physicians.”
“Finding a physician who can see you today, or three weeks from today, can be a challenge, even in large urban areas where there is a relatively robust supply of doctors,” said Smith. “The challenge becomes even more difficult in smaller communities that have fewer physicians per population.”
Merritt Hawkins says the expansion of what is, in essence, government health care, placed on steroids with the advent of Obamacare, is largely to blame for the problem. One consequence of the Affordable Care Act is that many additional millions of Americans are now in the Medicaid system. The problem (for physicians) is that Medicaid pays only 56 percent of what private insurance pays, and so there is a strong financial disincentive for doctors to refrain from treating patients whose form of coverage is Medicaid. According to the Breitbart piece, doctors in the largest cities are accepting Medicaid at a rate barely above 50 percent. The result? Millions and millions of folks who ostensibly have coverage cannot actually access services in anything approaching a timely fashion…if at all.
Another byproduct of the doctor shortage, beyond the matter of lengthening wait times, is the continued “legitimization” of physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners as outright replacements for doctors.
In my own case, my father’s cancer was initially misdiagnosed by a physician’s assistant as being a virus. He was given a prescription for some pills to treat said virus, and sent home.
Just last year, a nurse practitioner struggled to diagnose a dermatological issue with which I’d been plagued. I had originally wanted to see my doctor (my strong preference ever since my dad’s unfortunate experience), but he was so backlogged that I had few good options. The NP’s inability to properly diagnose my own ailment, in addition to causing me continued concern and discomfort, also resulted in higher financial costs, as well; I was referred out to a specialist who both provided a correct diagnosis as soon as she looked at me, and expressed frustration that I had been referred out to her for something that a primary care health provider should have been able to readily identify.
The days we have long feared are very much upon us…ALL of us.
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