The Campaign Spot

Massachusetts Patients, Still Waiting to See Doctors

Thank goodness Massachusetts residents live under an individual mandate in health care; otherwise, they might have a hard time getting access to care!

But look at how well the system is working:

A new poll of 838 Massachusetts doctors finds patients are still waiting weeks — in some cases as long as a month and a half — for non-urgent appointments with primary care physicians and certain specialists.

Surveyors for the Massachusetts Medical Society called doctors’ offices in February and March and asked when they could come in for routine care. They requested a new patient appointment with internists, family practitioners, and pediatricians; an appointment for heartburn with gastroenterologists; a heart check-up with cardiologists; an appointment for knee pain with orthopedic surgeons; and a routine exam with obstetrician/gynecologists.

The average wait ranged from 24 days for an appointment with a pediatrician to 48 days to see an internist. The wait for an internist was actually down slightly, from 53 days in a similar 2010 survey, but the waits for family doctors, gastroenterologists, orthopedists, and ob/gyns increased.

The article also notes that more than half adult primary care physicians in Massachusetts are not accepting new patients.

A key problem of the health care debate is politicians mixing access to health insurance with access to health care. If you have insurance but ludicrously long wait times, your health is not likely to improve, at least not anytime soon.

This new poll is likely to be noticed and talked up by… oh, every presidential candidate not named Mitt Romney.

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