Why does it take so long to make a doctor appointment?

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Photo credit Getty- AlexRaths

Patty Burnaman | WWL First News

It is not unusual to be told the first available appointment with a medical specialist will be three to four months from now, especially with an endocrinologist, dermatologist, or neurologist.  As the population ages, the demand for these specialists grows, and the number of specialists available is small.

10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, and this particular segment of the population takes advantage of medical care 30 percent more than the millennials.  Yet we are still training the almost the same number of doctors as in 1997.   

Dr. Phillip Miller, VP for Communications for Merrick Hawkins, the nation’s largest physician recruiting firm, tells us, “It is simply a matter of supply and demand, and currently, there are more patients in need of specialized care than there are physicians who can provide that care.”

Dr. Richard DiCarlo, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Institutional Affairs at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, tells us there is no easy answer as to why there is such a long wait time for appointments. 

“Some of it is shortages.  Some of it is related to insurance and how complicated the insurance system is,” said Dr. DiCarlo. 

The doctor said enrollment at LSU medical school has been on the rise steadily for the past ten years, but growth in the number of patients needing specialized care, and possibly the restrictions put on the patient by his insurance company, certainly help compound the issue.