Longer In-Office Wait Times Associated With Medicaid

HealthDay News — Medicaid patients have slightly longer waits at medical appointments than those with private insurance, according to a report published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

Researchers analyzed data from 21.4 million outpatient visits to 2,581 different medical practices in 2013. The wait times were recorded based on software capturing patient check-in times and times when patients were taken in for the doctor’s visit.

The investigators found that the average wait times were 4.6 minutes for Medicaid patients and 4.1 minutes for those with private insurance. Medicaid patients were also 20% more likely to wait more than 20 minutes to begin a scheduled appointment than those with private insurance.

The investigators also found that wait times are generally shorter in the mornings and at larger medical practices; patients in New England spent less time waiting to see a doctor than anywhere else in the country; and young children are late for 40% of their medical visits.

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Oostrom T, Einav L, Finkelstein A. Outpatient office wait times and quality of care for Medicaid patients. Health Affairs. 2017;36(5):826-832. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1478