Merritt Hawkins, a physician-staffing firm has published its periodic survey of waiting times for appointments with physicians in 30 metropolitan markets. The results:
- Average new patient physician appointment wait times have increased significantly. The average wait time for a physician appointment for the 15 large metro markets surveyed is 24.1 days, up 30% from 2014
- Appointment wait times are longer in mid-sized metro markets than in large metro markets. The average wait time for a new patient physician appointment in all 15 mid-sized markets is 32 days, 32.8% higher than the average for large metro markets.
Of the 15 major markets surveyed, Boston has the longest waiting time (52.4 days) while Dallas has the shortest (14.8 days). This is not surprising because queuing is a symptom of a system where resources are allocated by central planners exercising government privilege. Massachusetts has long been at the forefront of efforts to guarantee universal access to care through government planning, whereas Texas has no interest in such a program.
Of the 15 major markets surveyed, slightly more than half of the physicians (53.0 percent) reported they accept patients on Medicaid, the joint state-federal welfare program for low-income residents. This is an “improvement,” of sorts, from 2004, when only 49.9 percent of physicians accepted Medicaid patients.
However, 84.5 percent of physicians accepted patients on Medicare, the federal program for seniors, an increase from 77.0 percent in 2014. It is not clear why this changed. Although, given the dramatic increase in waiting times, it is not clear the increased rate of Medicare acceptance signifies overall improvement.
Obamacare significantly increased federal control of patients access to medical care, and it appears to be having the impact we would expect from more central planning.