Feds To Use Mystery Shoppers To Investigate State Of Health Care

Looks like our research-relishing relatives at Consumer Reports aren’t the only ones using mystery shoppers to help with their investigations. A new report says the federal government is bringing on a team of undercover operatives to see how hard it is just to get an appointment with a doctor.

Assuming the entire health care reform bill isn’t submarined in the coming months, around 30 million additional Americans will have access to health insurance, which could further strain what the administration says is an increasing shortage of primary care physicians.

Additionally, many more Americans will be eligible for Medicaid. Unfortunately, many doctors have stopped accepting Medicaid because the program reimburses doctors significantly less compared to private insurance.

Thus, the mystery shopper study will focus on both the difficulty of getting an appointment with a doctor in a timely manner and whether or not doctors are giving priority to patients with private insurance over those with publicly funded plans.

From the NY Times:

According to government documents obtained from Obama administration officials, the mystery shoppers will call medical practices and ask if doctors are accepting new patients and, if so, how long the wait would be. The government is eager to know whether doctors give different answers to callers depending on whether they have public insurance, like Medicaid, or private insurance, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Surveyors will call the offices of a total of 4,185 doctors, including pediatricians and OB/GYNs across nine states: Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Each office will be receive two undercover calls — one from someone saying he has private insurance, the second from someone claiming to have public insurance.

Reasons for scheduling appointments include everything from “I’m coughing up green, bloody mucus,” to annual checkups for physicals for school athletes.

While many doctors expressed feelings from anger to outrage to borderline paranoia in response to the news, the Times reports that the data in the survey will be anonymous: “Reports will present aggregate data, and individuals will not be identified.”

So why not survey patients about their experiences with doctors? Researchers tell the Times that patients memories of how long they had to wait to see the doctor could be mistaken or tainted by their feelings about that particular doctor.

U.S. Plans Stealth Survey on Access to Doctors [NY Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Eyeheartpie says:

    “Reasons for scheduling appointments include everything from “I’m coughing up green, bloody mucus,” to annual checkups for physicals for school athletes.”

    I dunno about anyone else, but were I the receptionist when the guy with the green bloody mucus called, I’d probably refer him to my worst enemy. “Yeah, um…the treatment is to stay as far from me as possible.”

    • 44Wadeable says:

      Ha! Sometimes you really are at the whim of a receptionist. I had a 3 week bout of vertigo in my last semester of grad school (relevance: not anywhere near my family physician). I went to the hospital near me and received a referral to go to a partnered general practitioner (I was given the number to two locations) if it did not clear up in x amount of time and a referral to go to a neurologist later. The receptionist at the first GP office said, “it will be a month to get in and see any doctor here.” The second one at the other location said, “That sounds pretty serious. We don’t have any openings here, but I’ll see what I can do,” and got me into the first location later that day.

      I could never get the receptionist at the neurologist’s office to get back to me to make an appointment. I seem okay. *knocks on wood*. Honestly, I would be good about seeing doctors if they were good about seeing me.

    • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

      Green Bloody mucus isn’t that bad. You should experience uncontrollable diarrhea with intestinal bleeding. The smell is one that would kill a dead guy.

  2. bnceo says:

    The biggest problem is the overbooking at doctor offices. You have a 10am appointment, but are not seen at that time. It could be a whole hour before someone sees you. And that’s only the nurse, not the actual doc.

    Also, for dermatologists, appointments are hard to come by. There aren’t many in my area which makes for long waits for an appointment. Almost 2 months sometimes.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Aren’t dermatologists required to confirm a skin cancer diagnosis, not to mention for treatment? That would be scary to have to wait 2 months for those results.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        That’s a good question and I’m not really sure how it’s typically handled. I suspect a lot of it depends on whether it’s found by a dermatologist or by a family doctor.

        More than anything, I was surprised by the abnormal (or atypical?) results from the lab biopsy of the tiny core sample that my doctor took. I thought she was just being incredibly conservative with wanting to sample it. But as soon as the labs came in, she referred me to a dermatologist for removal.

        Thankfully, even though I now have a giant scar on my chest (she had to remove everything), it was benign.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      That seems pretty consistent for my area too.

      It took close to three months to get in and see a dermatologist after the lab work came back on a questionable mole that my doctor sampled during a physical.

      Dermatologists are especially hard to see because so much of their work is done on a cash basis for cosmetic work. Botox is way more profitable than a skin cancer screening.

    • bender123 says:

      Having been a clinic manager for many many years, I can tell you that you are only looking at the front of house view…

      More people are coming in for more reasons: There is more paper work required. People are going to ER visits for basic care. People are not utilizing appropriate care levels. “How many times do i have to tell you, antibiotics will not help your cold”. My kid has “ADHD” because they like to play instead of being at school. I scheduled a well visit, but while i am here, can you look at…I saw a commercial for this drug, do I have anything that will allow me to use it?

      I could go all day with reasons, but 90% of them are made by drug companies, knowledgeable patients and government/insurance paper requirements.

      • bender123 says:

        Sorry…meant unknowledgable, but I was autocorrected…

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “I scheduled a well visit, but while i am here, can you look at…”

        Isn’t that why well-visits are typically in 30 minute appointment slots? Given that a well visit in my area runs between $700 and $800, I have no qualms about going over any health concerns.

        • sponica says:

          maybe it’s because I have lady parts….but my annual checkup usually runs about half an hour.

          although I have discovered that if you call asking for a physical (they say 8 weeks) and then say you REALLY need to change your birth control meds, they’re more accommodating and will get you in sooner

        • bender123 says:

          But you miss that a well visit where you bring up a problem issue (look at my busted up knee, for instance) creates a second visit to be documented, billed, coded, etc…

          If you mix a “problem” with your “check-up” most insurers (though the government endorsed billing codes) will bill the whole thing as a “sick” visit and not to your preventative benefit. It is much too complex to train in a comment section, but this simple thing turns a two minute question into a 20 minute documentation task.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            I have a grandfathered health plan, so there’s no distinction between preventative care and other treatment. Either way, I pay 100% out-of-pocket until I reach my deductible ($5,000).

            Regardless, it would seem silly to have a physical and not bring up health concerns. Judging from my immediate family, physicals and well visits are when pretty nasty things are first identified, especially seemingly benign issues that don’t necessarily warrant too much concern — occasional headaches, “funny” looking mole, small amount of blood on TP, etc.

            • bender123 says:

              Welcome to billing hell. If you only get one bill from that visit, consider yourself lucky. Generally, this is broken into two separate visits, even though you are sitting there and see it as one.

              • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

                I don’t consider myself lucky in any way. I’d rather get two bills if it meant I had insurance that covered things. As it is, I’m paying around $1,000/month and it covers nothing.

    • erinpac says:

      I’ve had no problem getting dermatology appointments. Generally most specialists seem much more reachable than any general practice.

      Want a steroid shot in an old keloid scar? Most non-urgent dermatology appointment ever, and there will be multiple appointments available that week.

      Significant respiratory infection and need antibiotics? Oh, the doctor can fit you in after 6 weeks, or you can go to the ER.

    • rmorin says:

      I have a fantastic PCP office. Physicals within two weeks, sick visits that day no problem. I am very lucky :)

      With that being said you can’t have it both ways usually. An office has a certain number of time slots, those get filled, and most offices leave a few spots on the NP/MD/PA schedule for urgent care. Well you call for a physical and yes they have a half hour open but putting you in would then mean that there is no room for urgent care so they push you back. Then the day of the couple time slots they have put aside get filled quickly. Well then someone calls and genuinely has a concern that should be seen that day. The office can say either sure, and squeeze them in, which pushes a few people back, or says “go to the ER”. In either instance someone is being inconvenienced.

      What is the best way of doing this? There is no easy answer.

  3. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    As we all know, more people with health insurance is, of course, a bad thing. Poor people should die and decrease the surplus population.

    (you all know that’s where these discussions are going to go.)

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      The article does (kind of) touch upon an interesting unintended consequence of the legislation.

      As it is, many practices take in Medicaid patients on either a charity basis or to fill additional unused slots, because it’s better to make some money than it is to make $0 for an used appointment slot. If more people have insurance, then presumably there will be very few, if any, open slots for a typical practice. If this happens, no doctor in his or her right mind would turn down somebody with Blue Cross, so he or she can lose money on a Medicaid patient.

    • Geekmom says:

      +1 Scrooge reference!

  4. HFC says:

    “So why not survey patients about their experiences with doctors?”

    People usually exaggerate lengths of time.

    “I had to wait hours!” when the actual wait time was about 45-minutes.

    “It was weeks before I had an appointment,” when it was actually 10-days.

    I’d much rather get actual times than what people “remember.”

    • Max Headroom says:

      10 days could be 3 weeks depending on the perspective. Call on a Friday, cant see doc till Monday after next. In their eyes, that’s 3 weeks.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      I had to wait 45 minutes last week. I seemed to be the only one with the foresight to bring a book and of course there was the obligatory person who had to amuse themselves with their phone. It still sucks to wait that long, esp. considering how much they’re going to charge your insurance.

      • PunditGuy says:

        Why is your book superior to my phone? I’ve got the whole Internet, Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, and plants/zombies to keep me occupied. Oh, and work — if need be.

        Unlimited data FTW. 4G city for the double win.

      • jesirose says:

        Yeah, I pick my phone over a book any day, especially since my phone HAS books on it. And games. And the internet…

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “It still sucks to wait that long, esp. considering how much they’re going to charge your insurance. “

        For those of us with HDHP/HSA plans… “considering how much they’re going to charge us”

        My wife and I have a running joke that the practice we go to uses the same appointment-scheduling program as Comcast.

      • NewsMuncher says:

        I usually take a magazine, though at one of my recent appointments, the nurse absent-mindedly put it in the magazine bin while I was on the table.
        I like books; they don’t drain my battery and I don’t pay for data. Almost every time I leave the house for any “appointment” or appointment-like activities (car checkup, etc), I grab reading material. Cheaper. :)

    • jessjj347 says:

      Agreed. An actual measurement would be better than what someone recalls, because there are many issues with how people remember things. Bias is already mentioned, and there are also issues of errors in memory.

      • NewsMuncher says:

        And who notes in their calender when they called for an appointment? I started documenting like crazy when a chronic issue came up, and I don’t even note that most of the time.

  5. Clippy says:

    Interesting the Hawaii made the list but no West Coast states did. I would have assumed for proper averages Mass Florida Texas and California were all required.

    • NoLongerALurker says:

      Seriously. I was surprised to not see any west coast states on the list. Especially California with it’s ridiculously high population in some areas; I’d like to see those stats.

      Maybe they’re afraid of the answers. ;)

  6. sponica says:

    so will they do this with the VA? Because really….I had clients wait months to get an MRI so they could be referred into the pain management clinic. Um, if they’re in PAIN waiting months is not fun.

    I have nothing against the VA staff…but my experience with the system is that it takes an insane amount of time to get appointments. If you’re homeless and want to get into transitional housing, you need a VA physical…that can take weeks. In the meantime, you’re still homeless.

    • EarthAngel says:

      I agree with you. The VA system is broken, but nobody within the system cares to fix it.

      I have health insurance. I once called to see if I could move a neurology appointment date up a few days and was given the run around on who I should be speaking with. My PCM’s nurse actually told me, “You have health insurance. Why don’t you go see another doctor.”

  7. daemonaquila says:

    How silly. The question isn’t whether Medicaid patients are getting shafted on getting an appointment. It’s whether they’re being treated more poorly than better insured patients with the same conditions. Of course, asking that question would take us where the government, insurers, and most doctors don’t want us to go – the professional ethics of physicians.

    I am a disability attorney. Sadly, a majority of my clients are not disabled due to an accident or tragic illness. They’re disabled due to the “care” they were given by doctors while uninsured, or on a charity care program/Medicaid. The difference in the quality of care given to these people early in their illness (while they were able to struggle and stay employed, and still had some type of private insurance) versus after they had to turn to Medicaid or a county charity “insurance” program, is staggering. Many of my clients on these programs have no problem at all getting an appointment.

    The real farce begins after they get the appointment. Do they see a doctor, or will it always be a nurse practitioner? How many months or years will it take before they a doctor will finally check on what that staff member is doing for the patient? Will the doctor spend more than 5 minutes with the patient? Will the patient see the same person twice in a row, or even in a year? Is there any meaningful continuity of care? How long will it take for a staff member at the office to decide it’s time for a long-delayed test? Once they do that, how long will it take to schedule? How closely are chronic conditions monitored? These are just a few examples of the problems that poor patients face. Getting in the door is the least of their worries.

    • caradrake says:

      That is a very good point. I went to the local hospital a couple of weeks ago due to pre-term labor. I waited 5 hours to be treated (completed sign in time at 8:36 am, was given the shot at 1:21 pm). During that time, I was assured a doctor was “on his way,” “will see you in five minutes,” etc. He never showed up, not once. The only person to see me was the nurse practitioner and the ultrasound tech.

      Of course, the nurse practitioner said I was “now considered high risk and needed to transfer practices” and “I’d be lucky to find a doctor this late in your pregnancy – your doctor today would be willing to take you on.” Wait, what? I’m supposed to hire a doctor who never once poked his head in the door, to be the person that catches my baby?

      Yes, I’m on Medicaid. I do wonder what would have happened had the baby shown before I was given the medicine. And, I also wonder if I was made to wait so long so they could milk Medicaid for more money?

      • daemonaquila says:

        You’d be shocked what hospitals and clinics will do for money.

        Way back before I became a lawyer, I managed a medical practice. Some of the doctors’ stories were staggering. There was a “workshop” at the hospital about why doctors should prescribe a certain inferior antibiotic for severe systemic infections, because it was reimbursed at a higher rate, it was given 3x/day rather than 2x, and because it was injected they could also charge for the nurse’s time. In another meeting, a “cost containment consultant” urged doctors to discharge patients with a “Do Not Resuscitate” on their charts just a bit earlier than they might otherwise choose to do so. In an ER, a heart attack victim was essentially allowed to die on the gurney because a doctor who was a member of the “right” insurance network could not be brought in fast enough on a holiday weekend.

        People die or are maimed or become disabled because of decisions that health care administrators make. Because of greed. Because too many doctors go through med school looking for a paycheck, rather than following a calling. Because it’s easier to go with the flow, than to take a stand for the profession and their own integrity.

        • NewsMuncher says:

          “Because too many doctors go through med school looking for a paycheck, rather than following a calling. “

          I would think it no matter what reason someone begins medical school, non-forgivable medical school debt would more than suffice as a reason for doctors to heed their bottom line.

          What does a “calling” have to do with Capitalism? I’ve always thought the market (severe shortage, abundance of the market) would draw more people to fill the huge gap of primary medical providers. This is not happening. Why?

        • Kuri says:

          So they treat the Hippocratic oath as a Hippocratic suggestion

    • Cordtx says:

      What’s wrong with Nurse Practitioners? Also, in Collin/Dallas county in Texas- there is not one endocrinologist who has any open spots for Medicaid pts. Can the govt force them to take Medicaid when the bill is paid 6 months down the road/questioned in 5 different ways before being paid and about $15 for and office visit?

      • daemonaquila says:

        What’s wrong with NPs? They don’t have an M.D. No matter how much shine the for-profit medical profession puts on that golden turd, they are not a competent replacement for a doctor. It’s one thing for an NP to see a person who has whacked a finger in the door, or to oversee a weekly check for a patient’s coumadin blood level. It’s another for an NP to see – or worse yet, become a stand-in “primary care physician” for – a patient with uncontrolled diabetes, serious cardiac disease, symptomatic hepatitis, or other severe and often complex illnesses. Misdiagnosis and mistreatment is rampant.

        I’m painfully aware of the shortage of specialists county-to-county in TX. However, if a Medicaid patient can’t get in to see a specialist, blame the primary care doctor. They can help a Medicaid patient see a doctor in another county – IF they choose to, and if the patient chooses to go. Regardless, if for a variety of reasons a patient who needs a specialist just can’t be gotten to one, it make it all the more important that he/she sees a doctor who will take the required time to do the best to deal with the illness, not someone who doesn’t have the skill, training, or knowledge to handle the condition.

        • Cordtx says:

          Well, you don’t need to pay a MD fee for a minor things such as throat/ear infections/pap smear, et. Let the MD’s get paid for surgery/complex patients and save insurance/govt money.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            How much of a discount do you get?

            At the practice I go to, it’s $120 whether I see a MD, NP, or a PA.

            • Cordtx says:

              The MD rate is 100 and midlevel provider (NP or PA) is 75-plus much faster to get in and they have more time to spend (in my experience).

              • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

                That’s not too bad, it’s good to know that it is possible to get a discount out of it.

                (are those billed rates or contract rates?)

                • Cordtx says:

                  cash rates if I don’t feel like messing with insurance protocals. insurance is the same rate billed but I think they pay less (the insurance % reimbursement for NP’s is less than for MD’s)

        • NewsMuncher says:

          I was referred to a specialist and while there, I’ve seen the same N.P. several times before she was like “?” and scheduled me to see the MD who’s name is on the door.

          Personally, I’d rather deal with an N.P. any day than a distracted, rushed doctor who can’t see me more than once. So, a trade off: see someone who gives me better personal care or someone who can potentially give me better medical care.

    • conquestofbread says:

      I think getting an appointment CAN be a challenge for the disabled on public insurance. I work with the disabled in residential settings, and our lead nurse couldn’t find anybody to see one of the guys for several weeks, calling many different practices. Either no new patients, too far away.

      I don’t think for the able-bodied being too far away is as much of an issue, but when you’re talking about people who need aides to get anywhere and staffing is an issue, it can be a huge problem.

      I agree with you that the level of care I see sometimes when bringing individuals to the doctor is appalling. Doctors only speaking to the staff when the client can speak for themselves, only giving a cursory glance at the patient, etc.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Seems like something that could be crowdsourced. Not that that would be a scientific method, but you could get a much larger pool and extremely quickly.

  9. FatLynn says:

    If you want more doctors, stop asking 22-year-olds to take on 300K in debt for a medical education.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I have a friend from Finland who is a doctor. She didn’t pay a dime for her education because the country offers national health care. Instead, after getting her degree she gave back by working a certain number of years in a government-managed hospital — after which she was free to stay on or leave and open her own practise as she wished. She stayed; said the money was just fine, she was treated well and her patients liked her. Funny how here in America, that’s ‘socialism’, but in other countries that are thriving economically, that’s just a solid plan for creating a strong nation.

      • caradrake says:

        There is a similar program here for teachers. Sign on to teach in a ‘needy’ school for X number of years after graduation, and all of your tuition/book costs will be covered.

        I wonder why the program is available for teachers but not for other fields (like doctors).

      • FatLynn says:

        There are some programs like that here, where federal loans are forgiven for practicing in under-served communities, but the problem is that they force a doctor to give up a lot of autonomy. When you are the age to be finishing medical school or residency, you may have a family, and agreeing to be uprooted anywhere in the country just isn’t an option.

        • FatLynn says:

          Clarifying my own statement: For example, you are a doctor living in Chicago. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of under-served communities in Chicago. But you can’t sign up for a program that puts you in a neighborhood in Chicago, you have to sign up for a program that puts you anywhere in the country, and then hope they honor your preference to be in Chicago.

        • Yomiko says:

          True, but how is this different from finishing med school/residency and trying to find a residency/fellowship in the geographic location of your choice? I’m thinking back to the days when I dated a late-stage med student and thought of this a lot. He was choosing quality over location and his top 10 residency programs were in 6 or 7 different cities.

      • Mike says:

        What’s even funnier is that despite every other developed nation figuring out that lowering med school cost and creating universal health care is the best solution, we still have a debate about whether or not we should have universal healthcare.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          And that “debate” goes on mostly because a minority are making huge $$ off the system as it is currently.

          • NoLongerALurker says:

            The greed in this country is astounding. Has it always been like this??

            (I honestly don’t know. I’m still a young’n. And who can believe the media? I need first hand explanations from people who lived through it.)

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I’m moving to Finland. I don’t care if it’s cold. I’ll wear fur and ride on a reindeer.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I am a 38-year-old who would gladly go to med school if I had the financial resources. I would make an excellent doctor, and would consider family practice. But alas, it is too costly.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      And open more medical schools.

  10. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    Is it illegal for a doctor to prioritize scheduling based on insurance status? I know ERs mostly can’t refuse treatment, but for appointments?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      No, it’s not illegal and it’s a very standard part of patient scheduling.

      It’s common practice to allot a certain number of appointment slots per week based on the type of insurance each patient has. Practices typically give priority based on the level of reimbursement that they anticipate receiving from the patient’s insurance.

      Medicaid has the lowest contract rates, the most paperwork, longest processing times, and patients have the highest no-show rates. They also have the lowest priority in scheduling. There are just too many paperwork headaches to deal with in order to lose money on a patient.

  11. dolemite says:

    “Well, we lost 15 shoppers out of 100. I think that’s acceptable. Please send condolence letters to the families.”

  12. u1itn0w2day says:

    I say just go clinic style and wait in line. Everybody thinks they’re special and wants to be squeezed in.

    What I can’t stand is that I’ve taken appointment times made open by another patient’s cancellation and yet they had the gaul to charge me an emergency visit.

    I hope they document in detail including actual doctor time and actual procedures performed compared to what they are billed for. I hope they catch these frackers fiddling with the coding.

    • dolemite says:

      What kills me is I never go to the doctor. Maybe once every 3-5 years. The last time I had an insane flu where I lost like 10 lbs in a day. Then I go to the doctor and I have to wait behind all these people that look fine and apparently just like hanging out at doctors offices, while I’m thinking there is a 50/50 chance I’ll live, and having hallucinations.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        That’s the thing you call in for an appointment that involves blood or fever and you have to wait in line behind someone with the sniffles or wants a script for hair loss medication. Or you want an injury looked at so you don’t loose work and you are behind the weekend warrior athlete who wants to play softball tonight.

  13. ninabi says:

    There is a shortage of family practice providers. The worst experience with lack of appointments came several years ago when my teenaged son, wearing shorts for the first time that year said to me, “Funny how I have two knees on one of my legs.”

    It was a mass on the bone. I called immediately. Appointments any time in the next month? Ha. I was told that if I thought it was bad enough (seriously???) to take him to an urgent care clinic.

    We waited for hours. We were there at least four, waiting to get somebody to see us and approve getting an x-ray taken and confirm what we suspected. That it was a bone tumor.

    The icing on the cake? Calling in and leaving a message for the family practice doctor with the results. No call back for two days.

    Finally, an exasperated nurse calls me back and in a smarmy tone asked, “What’s this condition your son has? I’ve never heard of ‘T.U.M.A’!”

    It is “tumor”. As in “bone tumor”.


    Referral gotten within the hour.

    (Rest of story- surgery- tumor size of a fist-crutches for weeks-happily benign-kid grew up)

    • sponica says:

      we’re lucky that our family practice has its OWN after hours urgent care and a triage nurse that you can call before you go in.

      one of my favorite GPs switched to urgent care a few years ago…I think it’s actually less stressful than the daytime hours.

  14. smartmuffin says:

    And SURELY the reason why it takes so long and is such a hassle to get a medical appointment is, “because there isn’t enough regulation?” right?



    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      I’ll give the response a 4 out of 10 on the Bachmann scale.

      Now, if you really wanted to give a old, hoary meme new life, you would have said something like, “The government is encouraging citizens to SPY on honest, hard-working REAL Americans and turn them in to the Government!!!” That would at least be clever.

      Now that we’re done with the knee-jerk reflexive animus against regulation, can you please explain to me what regulation of patient care, if any, would be acceptable to you?

  15. dush says:

    Maybe they won’t even do the survey, but just the mention of it will clean up a majority of the issues as offices try not to get on the bad list.

  16. Buckus says:

    Thanks, government, for warning doctors in those states that, until the results are released, they need to revamp their practices.

    Afterwards, they can go back to (denying) business as usual.

  17. EarthAngel says:

    A few years ago, my son (5 at the time) snapped his left femur in half when he was pretending to fly like Superman using my yoga ball. (He would roll over top of the ball, touch the couch and then roll back. It seemed harmless at the time.)

    He told me that he couldn’t stand up because he broke a bone. I figured he dislocated his hip, because seriously, nobody breaks their leg on a yoga ball. Right? We drove him to the ER and never even touched the waiting room. But I was shocked to see how full it was. One of the nurses there told me that most of the people there didn’t have insurance, so the general practitioners wouldn’t see them. They were waiting to be seen for things like ear infections and pink eye. Some of the “frequent fliers” were there for pain medication and would be disappointed when they were given acetaminophen.

    I know somebody who prefers to go to the ER. She once called the doctor to schedule an appointment for something that was urgent. Her son was running an incredibly high fever because of an ear infection and it would not break. She was told to schedule an appointment 2 – 3 days out. But her child couldn’t wait 2 – 3 days with a 104* fever, so she took him to the ER. Now she doesn’t even try to schedule an appointment, she goes straight to the ER. (She’s on Medicaid and can afford to do that. I have nothing against Medicaid for those who need it, but there is no way I could afford to pay for a biweekly ER visit).

    I had the same doctor, but I have private insurance. My son’s first grade teacher called me at work because he was screaming in pain. I called the doctor and explained to the nurse that his ear drum was rupturing. I didn’t need to make an appointment. They ushered us into a triage room and gave him tylenol while we waited for the doctor to return from lunch. His ear drum ended up rupturing, anyway. But the difference between how she was treated and how I was treated was like night and day.

  18. jayde_drag0n says:

    “whether or not doctors are giving priority to patients with private insurance over those with publicly funded plans.” They better not be giving “priority” to either, the only people who get priority are emergencies and that had better not be determined by coverage. Otherwise .. its the order you were recieved

  19. vicissitude says:

    The health care industry has a fine tradition of regulation by their lawyers in a closed and manipulated market. Which is funny when you think about it. Regulated by lawyers that work for corruption and greed, or the U.S. Government lawyers, who will eventually work for those same corporations and already take their orders from them. (At least the latter is elected, albeit with monies from the corrupt and greedy corporations who bought them.) The hypocrisy and irony is thick in a vat of corruption.

    On the other hand… TRY and get a doctor in a Radish State, if you are poor, on Medicaid, or Medicare, or both. Doctors leaving those States for two main reasons, one is they’re over policed to death and can’t do their jobs. (Radish States over policed in general, but I digress…) The other is not only does Medicare / Medicaid not pay enough, (Same with Social Security being based using 1950’s formulas.), but also Doctors going bankrupt waiting for those payments to be made. Some longer than 2 years worth…

    ALSO how many doctors did they interview?! Was is at scientific pole, or just a little pole sticking out information so’s we would believe the story. Media agenda BS Alert Meter:
    Empty |————||–| FULL

  20. guspaz says:

    I’m amused that the picture used for a story about the flaws of the U.S. healthcare system is a bunch of people wearing masks of the Canadian Prime Minister.