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Doctor's Appointment in the US May Take Months. The Reasons Aren't Surprising

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By Oscar Blair - - 5 Mins Read

Across the United States, citizens have expressed concern that the average time to get a doctor's appointment in the country has significantly increased. On different platforms, respondents have shared how they had to wait many months before getting their doctor's appointment. 

Robert Browne, a San Diego resident, said he waited for many months to book an appointment with a doctor, despite having a scary experience. According to Browne, he started seeing blood in his urine, and he wanted to meet a doctor to know the cause of the problem. He said he tried to stay calm after noticing blood in his urine many times and became increasingly anxious when he Googled his situation. He said the results he saw on Google made him start panicking about his condition. Browne added that he had to wait a month and a half before getting a doctor's appointment. 

Another San Diego resident named Jesus Magana shared her situation of waiting months to see a doctor. According to her, she had surgery, and she had some complications with the surgery and one of the screws went loose. She went to the doctor that did the surgery on her, and she was told that it was another doctor who could help her out. When she finally met this other doctor, she had to wait many months before getting the surgery done. A new outlet named NBC 7 met these two San Diego residents, and they shared their experiences with getting appointments with doctors. 

Apart from physically meeting those who have had this experience. NBC reached out to a broader audience on Facebook, and the responses were shocking for a country like the United States. Upon making that post, more than 200 people commented on it, sharing their terrible experiences with appointments with doctors in the United States. One of the respondents, Julie Stavros, shared how she has to stay for close to one year while trying to set up an appointment to undergo tests on her ear. 

A medical professional working with a desktop computer

According to professionals in the medical sector, they acknowledged that the issue of waiting months to see a doctor has now become a new trend. According to the California Health Care Foundation, US citizens could see their doctor within two days of setting an appointment ten years ago. But now, citizens have to wait for months before they can have a chance of seeing a doctor. Occurrences like this do not just happen out of the blue; there are reasons behind waiting months to create an appointment with a medical professional. We will discuss why it now takes a long time for citizens to make a doctor's appointment. 

  • Insurance Companies

You may be asking how insurance companies made this list, but that was how it was described by top health personnel. Many people seeking medical care do so with the use of insurance companies, and the process of communicating creates a significant hurdle for patients. As pointed out by medical personnel, insurance companies have to approve some patient payments. 

Sometimes when you develop another complication after surgery, the insurance company has to go through the process of approving the payments again. Supporting these payments can be labor intensive, requiring constant communication between both sides to work out. While patients think it is the fault of doctors not attending to their needs, the insurance company is actually delaying the whole process. 

"Now insurance companies, of course, have made their rules for approving procedures or diagnostic tests or any other kind of intervention more and more difficult and more stringent. So oftentimes you'll finally get your appointment, you'll formulate a plan, perhaps for surgery, perhaps for some advanced testing, and then the test or the procedure gets denied by the insurance for whatever reason," a health official pointed out. 

  • Burnout 

Burnout at work is real, even for medical doctors and other health professionals. A study conducted on health professionals shows that burnout at work is the biggest problem that causes the increasing waiting hours for doctors' appointments—the average time to get a doctor's appointment increased because doctors themselves are tired of the stressful work they do. Being a doctor is never easy, requiring one to work harder than in most other industries.

While carrying out some surgeries, doctors will spend more than 12 hours on the table working on the patient. The consistent occurrence of these has made many doctors burn out from work. A new survey from InCrowd, a healthcare data provider, showed that as many as 30% of healthcare providers in the United States felt they were experiencing burnout from work. It even went over the limit when some of the doctors said they were considering leaving the line of profession sometime in the future. 

  • High Rate of Unlicensed Doctors 

In a new revelation, thousands of doctors are unlicensed because there are not enough residency program providers in the United States. A rough figure by a health professional shows that over 50,000 doctors graduate yearly from college, but only a few get to practice. This is mainly because the United States does not have enough spots to fit these graduated doctors. 

For instance, a medical official named Edward narrated how a residency program for the San Francisco Chronicle had over 47,000 applicants, and only about 36,000 spots were available. Since fewer doctors are in practice, patients don't have enough doctors to take their appointments.