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The healthcare waiting game

The New York Times, July 7, 2014

One small consolation of our high-priced health care system — our $2.7 trillion collective medical bill — has been the notion that at least we get medical attention quickly. Americans look down on national health systems like Canada's and Britain's because of their notorious waiting lists. In recent weeks, the Veterans Affairs hospitals have been pilloried for long patient wait times, with top officials losing their jobs. Yet there is emerging evidence that lengthy waits to get a doctor's appointment have become the norm in many parts of American medicine, particularly for general doctors but also for specialists. And that includes patients with private insurance as well as those with Medicaid or Medicare.