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Wait times for appointments can be as long as a year

Category: General Health

Scheduling an appointment with a doctor can take months, or even a year, according to a new survey by Merrit Hawkins & Associates.

The survey looked at 1,162 medical offices in 15 large metropolitan areas and looked at five different specialties: cardiology, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology and othropedic surgery.

"Due to the doctor shortage, finding an available physician can be challenging today, even in large urban areas where most doctors practice," notes Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins & Associates.

Smith points to the situation in Boston, which had the longest average wait times: 70 days to see an obstetrician/gynecologist, 63 days for a family physician, 54 days for a dermatologist, 40 days for an orthopedic surgeon and 21 days to see a cardiologist. After the state of Massachusetts mandated health care coverage for all residents, demand for doctors rose drastically. Massachusetts has more physicians per capita than any other state, but the high demand means scheduling appointments and getting needed tests is increasingly difficult.

Smith says that the problem is likely to get even worse if the various plans to reform health care and health insurance increase access, as demand gets even higher.

Those interested in getting needed tests can bypass the wait to get an online lab test.ADNFCR-2248-ID-19156695-ADNFCR

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