Thursday, May 12. 2011
A new survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) indicates that patients in the Baystate, which has been on the forefront of health insurance reform, have seen a significant drop in the number of primary care providers that are accepting new patients.
According to the MMS, more than half of the primary care practices in the state are closed to new patients. This means many patients will have to contend with long wait times to see physicians in non-emergency situations. Average wait times hover at 48 days for an internal medicine appointment and 36 days for family medicine.
Alice Coombs, president of the society, stressed that these findings highlight weaknesses in the state's healthcare system.
"Massachusetts has made great strides in securing insurance coverage for its citizens," said Dr. Coombs. "But insurance coverage doesn’t equal access to care."
Coombs pointed out that lack of access to primary care is forcing many individuals to visit the emergency room, which can be more costly.
A recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians confirmed this trend. The findings, which were published in April, showed that more than 80 percent of emergency physicians who were polled reported significant increases in the number of people treated each day.
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