The Doctor Will See You A Little Sooner
How long is too long to wait to see a doctor depends on how bad you’re feeling—and where you live.
In Minnesota, the average wait time for a physician appointment is 17.4 days, according to a new report from Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician search firm. That represents a steady decline in average wait time compared with the previous three years that the firm conducted its survey.
Minnesotans waited an average of 19.2 days to see their doctor in 2014, 19.8 days in 2009 and 24.3 days in 2004, according to the 36-page report.
The decline here bucks the trend nationally. The average physician appointment wait time nationally is 24.1 days this year, up from 18.5 days in 2014. It was 20.5 days and 20.9 days in 2009 and 2004, respectively, according to Merritt Hawkins.
This year’s report is based on a survey of 1,414 office-based physicians in five medical specialties in 15 metropolitan areas. This year, the longest wait time is in Boston, where patients are expected to take care of themselves for an average of 52.4 days—or more than seven weeks—before they get in to see their doctor. The shortest wait time is 14.8 days in Dallas.
“Physician appointment wait times are the longest they have been since we began conducting the survey,” Merritt Hawkins said in a press release. “Growing physician appointment wait times are a significant indicator that the nation is experience a shortage of physicians.”
Separately, the Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents the nation’s medical schools, released a 68-page report that projected a nationwide shortage of between 40,800 to 104,900 doctors by 2030.
Merritt Hawkins also attributed the longer physician appointment wait times nationally to more people having health insurance benefits because of the employer and individual health benefit mandates in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.