Patients are waiting an average of 18 days to schedule an appointment for a doctor, according to a study of appointments for commonly used specialty physicians in 15 major U.S. cities.
The survey by physician staffing and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins comes as a doctor shortage looms as more patients seek medical care under the Affordable Care Act. The health law is bringing millions more Americans health benefits and therefore the ability to pay for a visit to the doctor’s office.
The longest wait to see a doctor was in Boston where the average wait was 45.5 days to schedule an appointment with a family physician, dermatologist, cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon or obstetrician/gynecologist. The survey came from a sampling late last year of nearly 1,400 medical offices across the country.
“In the next two to three years, can we keep a bad situation from getting worse?” asked Travis Singleton, senior vice president at Merritt Hawkins, a subsidiary of AMN Healthcare (AMN). ”Everything will tell you it’s going to get worse and not better.”