Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Under Obamacare, there will be long waits...

...just to see your doctor!" Have you ever heard anyone say that? According to the map above, that's already the case.

There was an interesting piece in the Washington Post yesterday about the average number of days it takes to see a doctor in several American cities. From Wonkblog (all emphasis mine):

A survey of physician practices in 15 metropolitan areas across the country, which was taken before the health law expanded coverage, 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 five days to see a family doctor.

Nine weeks just to see a family doctor? Wow.

What the piece didn't mention, and I wish it had, is how these numbers compare to other developed countries, which all have universal health care. Are wait times in the U. S. longer or shorter than in Canada, Western Europe and Japan? I don't know.

And just so no one accuses me of cherry-picking, there was also this:

Even Boston, which has eye-popping wait times, has gotten better. The city’s average wait time dropped from 50 days in 2009 to 45 days in 2013. That’s brings it closer to its level of 39 days in 2004 before Massachusetts adopted its version of health care reform.

Will wait times get longer under Obamacare? I don't know. But they're already a lot longer than I would have thought.

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