Jan. 30—A recent survey found that physician wait times improved in 15 major metropolitan markets over the past five years, but Medicaid acceptance rates among physician practices decreased by nearly 8 percent—lower than in 2009 and 2004, when previous surveys were administered.

The survey, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a physician staffing agency, examined the time needed to schedule a new patient appointment with a physician in 15 major metropolitan markets and the rates of physician Medicaid and Medicare acceptance in these markets.

The average cumulative wait time to see a physician for all five specialties studied—family practice, cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics-gynecology (OBGYN), and orthopedics—in all 15 markets was 18.5 days, down from 20.4 days in 2009 and 20.9 days in 2004. 

Dallas had the lowest cumulative average wait time among the markets studied, at 10.2 days. The average appointment wait time to see a family physician ranged from a high of 66 days in Boston to a low of five days in Dallas. Additionally, according to the report:

  • The average appointment wait time to see an OBGYN ranged from a high of 46 days in Boston to a low of 10 days in Seattle, with an average cumulative wait time of 17.3 days in all markets, down from 27.5 days in 2009 and 23.3 days in 2004.
  • The average cumulative wait times to see a cardiologist in all 15 markets was 16.8 days, up from 15.5 days in 2009 but down from 18.8 days in 2004.
  • The average cumulative wait time to see an orthopedic surgeon in all 15 markets was 9.9 days, down from 16.8 days in 2009 and 16.9 days in 2004.

But when it comes to Medicaid acceptance rates among physicians, the cumulative average rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in all five specialties and in all 15 markets surveyed was 45.7 percent, down from 55.4 percent in 2009 and 49.9 percent in 2004.

Boston has the highest rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in the 15 markets surveyed (73 percent), while Dallas has the lowest (23 percent).

The cumulative average rate of Medicare acceptance in all five specialties and in all 15 markets surveyed was 76 percent. Rates of Medicare acceptance were not included in the previous stories. 

Boston has the highest rate of Medicare acceptance by physicians in all five specialties (98 percent), while Minneapolis has the lowest (38.2 percent).

Read the report.

Publication Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014