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Jim Robeson

Jim Robeson CLU, ChFC

The Medicare Answer Guy

Medicare News

May 2023 Edition

My goal with this newsletter is to:

  • 1

    Keep You Informed I will be sharing current articles about the changes in Medicare.

  • 2

    Answer Your Questions I'm available to answer issues specific to you.

  • 3

    Stay Connected I want to make Medicare coverage as simple as possible.

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Frustrated senior woman is confused and staring at her computer screen.

Waiting to See Your Doctor Getting You Frustrated??

One of the complaints I hear most often from clients is about the long wait times to get in to see their doctors. The frustration is real!! Have you experienced this as well? Although it may not resolve the issue, you should know that you are not alone.

A study was done in 2022, where researchers called doctor's offices (or used an online scheduling system) in 15 large metropolitan US cities to schedule an appointment as a new patient to see how long they would have to wait for an appointment. The doctor's offices contacted were from different specialties: cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics-gynecology, orthopedic surgery, and family medicine.

The average appointment wait time for a doctor's visit has increased 8% since the survey was last conducted in 2017. In 2022, the average appointment wait time in the 15 cities was 26 days, up from 24.1 days in 2017.

The survey noted that the researchers did not ask for appointments regarding urgent or emergency medical needs, so these wait times are not included. Compared with 2004, when the survey was first conducted, the average wait time has increased by 24% from 20.9 days. The survey was conducted between March and mid-May 2022 and covered 1,034 offices.

Portland, Oregon had the highest average wait time – 45.6 days. New York City had the lowest average wait time at 17.4 days. The specialty with the highest average wait time is dermatology, which has an average wait time of 34.5 days. The average wait time to see a dermatologist in Minneapolis was the highest, at 72 days, while Philadelphia had the lowest average wait time, nine days. The lowest average appointment wait time was 16.9 days to see an orthopedic surgeon. San Diego had the highest average wait time of 55 days to see an orthopedic surgeon, while Washington, DC, had an average appointment wait time of 5 days.

Historically, the doctor-to-population ratios in the 15 surveyed cities are some of the highest in the US, the survey noted. The survey listed other factors that can make wait times even longer in the future. The US could have a deficit of between 37,800 and 124,000 doctors by 2034, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. One of the reasons for that is the growing US population. The US Census Bureau estimates that the population will grow to 423 million by 2050. Doctors are also aging, with over 30% of the active workforce being 60 or older. A cap on federal funding for graduate medical education, which Congress implemented in 1997, limited how many doctors could enter practice each year, but was lifted in 2021. Despite the lift, only 1,000 training positions are being funded, "far short of what is needed," the survey said.

It does not seem that these wait times will get much better in the near future. I do have a couple of suggestions that may help though. You can often see the doctor's Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner in a more timely fashion and these practitioners can handle most of the same care that the doctor can. Just ask the scheduling contact if that is an option. Also, if you are experiencing immediate pain or discomfort, consider going to an Urgent Care center as they can often see patients the same day.

Personal Note

We are anxiously awaiting warmer days!! While we are thankful for the mild weather in California, we are definitely ready for some sun and warmth (versus grey and wet). I love to surf, but at this point in life, I am a fair weather surfer… so I need some fair weather! ☺

When we aren't working in the office, we continue to enjoy as much time with our scattered family as possible. Diana recently welcomed her son, Brian, home from an extended stay in New Zealand where he was living the van life while pursuing his passion of mountain bike riding and learning to river raft and kayak. We will be going to Tulsa in a couple of weeks to visit my daughter and her family including the latest addition, Brody, who is 7 months old.

As always, please contact me if I can help in any way with your Medicare questions or needs.

Jim Robeson CLU, ChFC

Medicare Made Easy
10755 Scripps Poway Pkwy #617
San Diego, CA 92131| (858) 935-9120

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