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Shortest Wait Time To See A Doctor? Dallas

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How many days will you have to wait to see a doctor? Depends on where you live. A new study of fifteen metropolitan areas measured average wait time, and the winner? It’s Dallas.

That’s right, coming in at just over ten days, Dallas has the shortest average wait time for a new patient to see a doctor. The loser?

Boston. With an average wait time of more than 45 days.

“Which is a long time to wait if you have a pain in your knee or just want to schedule a check-up,” Phil Miller says.

Miller is vice president of communications for Merritt Hawkins, the physician consulting firm that conducted the survey. Researchers contacted 1,399 medical offices last year and requested new-patient appointments with five types of doctors – family physicians, dermatologists, cardiologists, OBGYN’s, and orthopedic surgeons.

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Short Wait Time, Because Few In Line

The survey also tracked how many doctors accept Medicaid as a form of payment. Boston, our loser in terms of wait time, has the highest rate of Medicaid acceptance, at 73 percent. Dallas, on the other hand, had the lowest rate of Medicaid acceptance at 23 percent.

Miller says that suggests there’s an inverse relationship between wait time and number how many people are able to pay for health care in a city.

“When you have a medical market such as Boston,” Miller says, “where pretty much everyone has insurance, or Medicaid or Medicare, it creates demand to see a physician and that can lead to longer lines.”

By contrast, here in Dallas-Fort Worth, one in four adults lacks health insurance. People without insurance are less likely to try and get in line for a doctor’s appointment.

So, as more people get insurance through the Affordable Care Act will the lines to see a physician in Dallas grow?

It’s likely, Hawkins says, but we just don’t know for sure.

Oh, and the study didn’t say anything about wait times to see a doctor once you’re actually in the office.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.