How long before I can see a doctor?

So, you don’t want a universal insurance system because you think there will be long wait times. Guess what, they are already here.

A friend of mine who needs shoulder surgery just told me he has to wait until March 2023. When I desperately needed a urologist last February every call I made was weeks waiting for an appointment. Only by chance finding a friend working in an office did I get a quick appointment.

Remember, Medicare is not a universal health care system like in the UK or Canada, Medicare is a universal insurance system and when compared with private insurance interferes very little in your health care.

2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times

Stephanie Stephens 

November 01, 2022 • 3 min read  Physician

What consumers grouse about waiting a “long time” for a doctor’s appointment, they have good reasons, says a new study from healthcare talent solutions expert AMN Healthcare and its physician recruiting division, Merritt Hawkins.

Bottom line: If you want to see a physician, be prepared to wait, perhaps as much as 26 days—that time up from 24.1 days in 2017. In the survey’s first year, 2004, the wait time was 21 days.

The survey highlights the need for more physician career opportunities to stem the tide of “not enough doctors to go around.”

Dermatology Longest Average Waits

From March through mid-May 2022, the companies’ research specialists called randomly selected physicians in five medical specialties: cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics-gynecology, orthopedic surgery, and family medicine, to make appointments for non-emergent medical problems.

They contacted at least 10 separate physician offices per specialty, per large metropolitan area—the optimum number was 20. First appointment times were obtained from a total of 1,034 distinct physician offices, the companies said. Research specialists also asked offices whether the doctors accepted Medicare or Medicaid as payment.

206 Days for a Cardiology Appointment?

The survey also looked at the highest average new patient physician appointment wait time across all five specialties of the 15 areas surveyed. Portland showed the highest at 45.6 days, while New York won the day at 17.4 days.

About Medicare and Medicaid, the average rate of physician Medicare acceptance is 82.4 percent for all 15 areas, a decrease of 4 percent from 84.5 percent in 2017. Medicaid fares much better at 54.1 percent in those areas, up 2 percent from 53 percent in 2017.


  1. The urgent care pop ups, at least in my area, are staffed with nurse practitioners usually and sometimes they are only a bandaid if you need to see a specialist. I had occasion to visit one with a skin problem and their prescriptions didn’t work and when I got into the dermatologist I explained I had the prior treatment and the dermatologist said “they did the best they could with what they had but the prescriptions you got belong in the waste can.”
    On another occasion a few years back, the urgent care was able to get an appointment for me with a specialist within a week and for that I was grateful. So my experience with urgent care has not been helpful except assisting me with getting a speedier appointment. They sure aren’t a replacement for regular docs.


  2. In my area over the last 20 years, urgent care centers are popping up left and right. At first I thought was due to the fact that insurance companies really don’t like you to use the emergency room. I get that. In fact, I have called my primary and have asked where I should go because they didn’t have an immediate appointment slot.

    Or are urgent care centers now filling in a need because of a shortage of primary care doctors and are they just putting band-aids on the problem so that you can wait to see a specialist?


  3. Universal Health Care is not the utopia those without universal health care think it is. the wait times in the vast majority of Canada are much, much longer than in the US and access to a family doctor in some provinces is a major problem !


    1. Remember, we are talking universal insurance coverage, not universal health care provided by government facilities. There is a big difference.


      1. Before we go to a universal insurance plan, we have to expand the supply of medical providers, from docs on down. Especially docs in specialized areas and also the nursing profession. If you increase the demand with the limited providers, you are heading for the same problems the government run providers are facing around the world.


      2. Very true and we need a gradual phase in of coverage. I would start with newborns after a certain date and go from there and accelerate the coverage as the system can handle it.


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