Study: Delays in getting doctor's appointments growing

A new study by Merritt Hawkins and Associates has underlined that the doctor shortage blossoming in this country is beginning to have immediate consequences. The study concludes that appointment wait times have increased by an average of more than a week since they last did a similar survey five years ago.

The firm, which surveyed 1,150 medical offices in 15 cities, measured average appointment wait times in family practices, as well as cardiology, dermatology, OB/GYN and orthopedic surgery. Its research found that wait times have grown by 8.6 days per city on average.

The city with the worst wait times was Boston, averaging 49.6 days, while the shortest was Atlanta, with a 11.2-day wait for appointments. Meanwhile, the average across all specialist practices was 20.5 days.

Researchers guess that Boston's time is so much longer due to the Massachusetts health reforms, which required almost all residents to buy health insurance. (Seems like this is one warning of what could happen nationally if mandated health coverage is enacted--which seems probable--so prepare yourself.)

To learn more about the study:
- read this USA Today piece

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