One More Point on Health Care

Whenever I hear someone talking about wait times for simple procedures under socialized medicine and the efficiencies of going to a primary care physician rather than the emergency room, it baffles me. I don’t belong to an HMO. I have the best, most expensive health insurance available. If I need to see my primary care physician in anything less than a month, my doctor tells me to go to the emergency room. It takes significantly longer to schedule an appointment with a specialist—two to three months is typical. That seems to be about the norm here in Chicago. Is it different elsewhere?

7 comments… add one
  • Dave:

    It’s very different here in Chapel Hill.

    I came here from Chicago, so I know whereof you speak. But here I can see just about anybody just about any time. It would literally be easier for me to get in to see the head of a department at UNC hospital or Duke than it sometimes is to book a haircut. Annie Gottlieb noticed the same thing when she moved from NYC and commented on her surprise that a doctor’s appointment for 10:00 am will actually begin . . . I know you won’t believe this . . . at 10:00 am. It’s true. I take my kid to the dermatologist, the appointment’s for 11:00 and by God at 11:30 we are in the car heading home one co-pay poorer.

    It’s kind of eerie compared to Chicago. Seems unnatural.

  • I have some of the best insurance around (here in Delaware) and I have to wait about at least one month to see a specialist. For my primary care doc, I can usually get in to see at the very least the nurse practitioner that very same day, if necessary.

  • I remember that from Chicago, but it is not like that in Texas, Michigan, or Virginia.

  • Dave, I have excellent insurance here in Orlando, FL, and one often has to wait 2-4 weeks to see a doctor. However, sometimes it is possible to see a doctor on very short notice, if you have a good relationship with the doctor in question.

    How much of this scaricity is a product of specialization? My mother recently spent eight days in the hospital, and she had eight doctors that I know of in that span of time. It took her PCP to check her in and order the first set of tests, a doctor with a specialty in radiology to read her CT scan, a G/I and urologist to follow up on the CT scan results, an anethesiologist to help with the colonoscopy and cystoscopy, a cardiologist (an his assistant, another MD) to clear her for possible surgery, and a colo-rectal surgeon who will eventually remove part of her colon (but not during the initial trip to the hospital). While I understand some of this, does it really require two specialists for the colon work? One only does colonoscopies and similar work, the other one only does surgeries. We’re being specialized into scarcity!

  • PD Shaw Link

    I know the complaint around here is that it can take over a year to get your first appointment with an OB/GYN. I generally have had few medical needs, but can get in and see a nurse pracitioner any day.

  • Katie Link

    I came from the Chicago area also and agree with you on how hard it is to get a timely appointment. My parents, who still live there NEVER cancel a doctor’s appointment because it takes too long to get another one. They’ve skipped a lot of things in order to be able to get into the doctor, and they schedule vacations around various dr appointments. Since it takes me, in a smallish town, about 3 days to get into pretty much any type of doctor, it baffles me that people living in one of the biggest cities in the US, with no dependency on Medicare or Medicaid, can have so much trouble getting appointments.

  • I’m a military spouse, so I fall under the military’s TRICARE insurance. How long I wait depends on what kind of appointment I need. If it’s some kind of routine checkup, then about 3 weeks. If it’s strep throat (which I recently had), my clinic does throat-cultures on a walk-in basis and you will see someone that day if it comes out positive. By “someone” I mean a nurse, PA or doctor. Often, the true doctor only gets called if he/she is really needed, or just to quickly confirm and approve what the PA or nurse has diagnosed.

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