STUDY: Wait Times to See a Doctor Have Increased Under the Affordable Care Act

It’s safe to say that every American seeking medical attention and an appointment with their physician of choice prefers to wait for as little time as possible.  Unfortunately, a recent study finds the Affordable Care Act is exacerbating a twofold problem that already exists in our country: a physician shortage and increasing wait times.  The study’s conclusion notes:

The survey was conducted during a period of historic change in the healthcare delivery system in which health reform is anticipated to greatly increase the number of people with access to health insurance.

However, as the example of Boston illustrates, access to health insurance does not always guarantee access to a physician.

Boston was found to be the metropolitan health care market, of the 15 this study observed, with the highest wait times, at 45.4 days.  Boston is also the capital of the state President Obama considered the model for healthcare and for his signature health care law.  The study also found Boston has the highest rate of Medicaid and Medicare acceptance by physicians in the 15 markets surveyed at 73 percent and 98 percent respectively. But as the study also stated:

Long wait times in Boston may be driven in part by the healthcare reform initiative that was put in place in Massachusetts in 2006. The initiative succeeded in covering the great majority of the state’s residents. However, it has been reported in the years since that many patients in Massachusetts are encountering difficulty in accessing physicians.

In light of the findings of this study, lawmakers should consider legislation that encourages more individuals to enter professions as physicians and remain in practice, thereby reducing the time Americans have to wait to see a doctor.

One means of making the medical profession more attractive is to address and remedy the litigious nature of healthcare in America:

With studies indicating that America faces a doctor shortage in future years, policymakers should focus on removing barriers that discourage institutions from assisting those who need health care. Regrettably, America’s litigious culture has resulted in the widespread practice of defensive medicine by doctors and other health practitioners. In response, some states have changed their medical liability laws to discourage frivolous lawsuits, prompting doctors to move to those states to practice medicine. Were other states to adopt such reforms, this would encourage doctors—a majority of whom believe the practice of medicine is in jeopardy —to remain in practice and would encourage students to join the profession.

America needs a patient-centered, market-based healthcare system, and one that is good for doctors as well, because such a health care system would mean a healthier America overall.  The Heritage Foundation predicted these problems in 2010, in a post entitled, “Side Effects: Get Ready to Wait for Your Health Care.”  Even then, they promoted patient-centered, market-based reforms, which we still need today.

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2 thoughts on “STUDY: Wait Times to See a Doctor Have Increased Under the Affordable Care Act

  1. First Forbes, now Heritage Action. The more I see this the more I think the ACA must really be awesome. The poll being used in this “article” is from last year, before 1 single policy associated with the ACA was ever in effect. Another fact conveniently omitted from this article is that compared to 2009 wait times were actually less on a whole. If you want to keep feeding your flock of sheep lies and propaganda, that’s your business, but if the ACA is so bad you should be able to write about real factual concerns about it and not this made up garbage. The fact that you have to make things up makes me think the ACA must not be as bad as you want people to think. Good for you, taking credit for predicting longer wait times for doctors when in fact they have reduced.

    • Presented with ‘facts’ Bryan ignores them and sings kumbaya or la, la, la; it doesn’t change the reality that if you increase the ‘demand’ on an already shorthanded physician field, you increase the wait times. It’s that simple. Prior to obamacare there were estimates of some 45 million w/o healthcare when in reality it was much less and the numbers included those who chose NOT to have health care but now are being forced under the heavy hand of government to buy it or else. Furthermore, it’s being extended to ‘illegals’ as well, thus will be adding an estimated 12-20 Million onto the roles. So how is it Bryan, if physicians are leaving the field in record numbers all the while the numbers of those ‘demanding’ healthcare are rising exponentially can the system sustain itself without costing more, increasing wait times, etc.? “Free” healthcare is NOT free and therefore the costs are picked up by the taxpayers to subsidize the rest at increasing amounts and when it reaches a tipping point the care goes down as in ‘rationed care’. Good luck living in your fantasy land while you can but reality is like getting the door slammed in your face and one day the health care debacle that is obamacare will slam right back at you; it will be up to you to figure out if you still have any sense to realize that you can no longer ignore the facts or continue on living under a rock.

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