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(51,907 posts)
Sat Jun 25, 2016, 01:52 AM Jun 2016

INTERSECTIONS: US has longest health care waiting times


It is a common mistake to associate universal or near-universal coverage with long waiting times for specialized care. ( Read the previous sentence again-- a mistake to associate universal coverage with long waits.) The UK has short waiting times for basic medical care and non-emergency access to services after hours. The UK also has improved waiting times to see a specialist and now ranks fourth on this dimension with the US ranking third. Patients in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland have rapid access to elective or non-emergency surgery compared with patients in the US.

Again, it is a mistake to associate universal care for all with delays in care, seeing a specialist or elective surgeries. If this goes against the propaganda one commonly hears in the US, such propaganda being paid for by US health insurers and Big Pharma, then read the above paragraph again. Now, it is true that Canada is having some wait times for specialized elective care--this is NOT a reflection of universal care (read the above paragraph again), it is a reflection of some issues unique to Canada that Canadians are addressing--just as the UK addressed waiting times to see a specialist and now ranks just behind the US.

If universal coverage was the cause of waits, then US Medicare patients would be looking at serious delays. US Medicare patients are not suffering, for many they are safe from predatory health insurers for the first time in their lives (except for privatized Medicare Advantage plan patients, who face restricted, choice, narrow networks while costing taxpayers more). What is often cited is Canadians wait for elective knee or hip replacements--in fact US patients wait also, often voluntarily putting off joint replacements for years on end--and remember that for 37% of US patients without good insurance the wait is infinite.
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INTERSECTIONS: US has longest health care waiting times (Original Post) eridani Jun 2016 OP
Crazy thing happening KT2000 Jun 2016 #1
Yep. I broke a tooth. raven mad Jun 2016 #2
- Bigredhunk Jun 2016 #3
My wife fainted and I sat next to her as she lay on a gurney in a hallway for six hours. Spitfire of ATJ Jun 2016 #4
Health care is an expensive luxury here, not everyone can get it. nt bemildred Jun 2016 #5
I was told there was an influx of Obamacare patients last August flamingdem Jun 2016 #6
When I had to schedule orthopedic surgeries it was a 3+ month wait csziggy Jun 2016 #7


(20,622 posts)
1. Crazy thing happening
Sat Jun 25, 2016, 03:17 AM
Jun 2016

where I live. For people new to their health plans, they have to select a doctor. All doctors in the area will not schedule a new patient for 3 months. No specialists will see patients without a referral so that means a 3 month plus wait. I should say that most doctors are employed by the hospital.
Our local ER is not very busy during the day but after work hours it is jam packed with people needing non-emergency care.

Maybe it is like this everywhere but it does not make sense. How could every doctor require the 3 month wait unless it was something dictated to them.

I was dealing with a friend who was obviously having a mental issue and when I asked where I could take him I was told he would need a referral after the 3 month wait.


(1,367 posts)
3. -
Sat Jun 25, 2016, 04:08 AM
Jun 2016

Those "universal health care die while you wait" talking points were always bullshit. It's not like people don't have to wait in America. People have always had to wait. A friend's shoulder replacement took over 3 months from consult-to scheduling-to surgery (late last year to early this year). I'm sure there are far worse examples.

I think the only exception is concierge-type care for the wealthy. Chris Rock said it on Real Time w/Bill Maher years ago. His dad got sick when he (Chris Rock) was poor. His dad died. His mom got sick when he was rich. His mom lived. He said if people could see the discrepancy between "regular people" health care and rich people health care (being waited on hand and foot, immaculate facilities, more like a spa), people would be rioting in the streets. I assume people with huge wallets don't have to wait as long.

Michael Moore also correctly pointed out years ago...when you take 50 million (uninsured) people out of the line, of course the lines/waits are shorter (even if only a bit). Although the # of uninsured has dropped, we still don't have everybody covered (and I love the ACA).


(39,349 posts)
6. I was told there was an influx of Obamacare patients last August
Sat Jun 25, 2016, 11:00 AM
Jun 2016

and as a result some were being paired with residents rather than doctors.

In urban areas waiting is not a problem in my experience. There are more doctors to chose from. Also, you have to work it. Call for cancellations. The squeaky wheel..


(34,141 posts)
7. When I had to schedule orthopedic surgeries it was a 3+ month wait
Sat Jun 25, 2016, 12:15 PM
Jun 2016

Every single time. From my first - a shoulder reconstruction paid for with cash since I had no insurance - to fully covered knee replacements and carpal tunnel surgeries. It was six months from my first appointment with the doctor - three months after the injury - until the surgery. With an arm that was only partly functional, so much pain I got little sleep, and with me not able to do the work I needed to run my farm.

It is at least a six week wait to get the first appointment with the specialists, then they want to try physical therapy instead of surgery, THEN there is the three month wait before the surgery.

The only times the wait has been shorter was when I tore and folded up the meniscus in each knee - on separate occasions. Both times, my family practice doctor called ahead, got me emergency appointments within a week, and the surgeon scheduled the arthroscopy in less than two weeks.

Both times, the surgeon wanted to get it done fast, not because I was in so much pain, but because football season was just started and he wanted to keep his calendar clear for the athletes. (Of course, without the local college team (FSU Seminoles) this town could not support such a good orthopedic clinic, so I guess I shouldn't feel bad about that.)

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