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notnotnotnot's avatar

How often do you have to shop for a new primary care physician?

Asked by notnotnotnot (4384points) September 18th, 2018

About once every 24 months, I have to find a new primary care physician because the doctor has left the practice. The process for finding a new doc takes weeks because it involves calling dozens of doctors to find one that is taking new patients. And once I have found one, I need to pay $30 for document processing fees to have my records sent to new doc, and have to schedule a new patient appointment.

My current search for a new doc comes only 14 months after finding my last doc. I’ve called 18 practices in the area (and spent hours of my work time), and nobody is taking new patients – with the exception of a doctor that is only available 5:15pm – 7:15pm two nights per week, and 3.5 hours on Saturday.

Is this a Massachusetts phenomenon? Could the US healthcare system be any more broken and shitty?

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16 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Yikes! As you know, I’m in the Boston area too, but this hasn’t been my experience; granted I haven’t been here a super long time. But I’ve had the same PCP for the 3+ years I’ve been here.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’ve had the same primary for over ten years and before that, the same one for at least five.

When a few other people had the same experience you did, it was because their doctors are leaving and finding new jobs, as per my doc “It isn’t about healthcare, we’re glorified paper pushers with time limits on patient visits.”

Also some are quitting due to govt overreach on opioid prescriptions. If an 85 yr old has severe chronic pain, the doctors are still cutting them off and it’s upsetting a lot of doctors as it’s a direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We had the same PCP for 35 years until he retired last year. They transferred us to a new doc in the practice (a child! :-) ) . Unfortunately his wife just got a fellowship in another state so just like that we were dropped and were looking at a list of 6 practices that agreed to take his patients.
We have a meet and greet with the next doc in a month.

This is very annoying.

janbb's avatar

I’ve gone to the same internist for about 30 years. He took my medical insurance and now takes Medicare.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@janbb What will happen when he/she retires? That’s a problem.

notnotnotnot's avatar

I just found someone who is taking new patients. Blue Cross Blue Shield has an online search engine that allows you to filter for doctors that are accepting new patients. This is highly inaccurate, however. Additionally, half of the practices I called notified me that the doctors I had called about (that were listed on BC/BS site) no longer work there.

Zaku's avatar

About every 20 years or so, so far… ;-) ... or when they retire, or I move… and when I actually can afford one and need one at the same time.

rebbel's avatar

I had one appointed to me, some years ago, but the chance of me meeting her whenever I call with a complaint are slim.
More than half of the time I get a stand-in, or another doctor of the partnership.
Right now I am without a PCP, but I’m still covered by the stand-ins.
It annoys me that I can’t have one steady doc for years and years, like I had the first twenty odd years of my life.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rebbel Are you in the States?

janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy I imagine at some point he’ll sell the practice to a young whippersnapper that I’ll bitch about.

rebbel's avatar

@KNOWITALL No, I’m in the Netherlands.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rebbel Interesting, I just read up on your healthcare system and am intrigued. Says wait times and expense were real issues, but the rest seemed pretty impressive.

chyna's avatar

Most of the doctors in my state are hiring PA’s, physician assistants to take a lot of the patient load off of the doctors. I’ve been seeing the same PA for about 5 years now and although she is a young whipper snapper, I like her.

rebbel's avatar

@KNOWITALL That’s exactly what I would be saying if I were asked to describe it.
Wait times are my biggest gripe.
We pay around €130 per month, with an “obligatory deductible exces” of €385 per year per person.
Plus, on most meds, we pay a small(-ish) contribution.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rebbel My prescription today was $39 for a three month supply today, not bad. Although insurance goes up every year for less coverage and no one here is guaranteed any kind of cost of living raise to counter the rising rates.

So basically if you haven’t had a raise in ten years, you are paying triple insurance costs and making less than you were ten years ago. That’s the biggest complaint I hear.

si3tech's avatar

I moved to this area 18 years ago. That’s when I found a primary physician. Fortunately he still practices here.

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