The wait times
June 26, 2012 Leave a comment
When I talked about health care policy last week and mentioned how much better other countries do than the US, not surprisingly, some of my conservative students pulled out the “but what about the wait times?!” line. Now, admittedly, Canada does a poor job with wait times, but plenty of countries get way more efficient (similar quality, way less cost, covers all citizens) health care than the US with no additional wait times. I was thinking about this, as on an anecdotal level, I read this on a discussion forum I subscribe to on Tuberous Sclerosis:
Hi everyone, I am hoping to get some insight into how Children’s Hospitals around the nation are. My son O____ has TS and is 2, and he has excellent neurologists that we really like. We go to a major Children’s Hospital that has a TS clinic. The problem is that wait time to get anything done is unbelievably long. O____’s seizures have come back with a vengeance, and we have been working with his meds for the past few months- new doses, new meds, off old meds, etc. Of course, nothing seems to be working. They recommended we come in for an overnight EEG, which seems like a great idea. The problem is that when I called to schedule it, the soonest appointment they have is in mid-September. Really, we have to wait 3 months while my son has seizure after seizure on a daily basis???
We have had to deal with crazy wait lists for scheduling his eye appointments, his MRIs, his neurology appointments, everything. I feel like this hospital has the best doctors and facility in our region, but this 3 month wait for EEGs is keeping him from getting the care that he needs. Is this the norm for how Children’s Hospitals operate?
Sadly, far from an isolated story. You know, it would be one thing to pay 50% more for health care than the rest of the world if there weren’t plenty of stories like this, but sadly, all that extra money isn’t really buying us anything of value (unless you value the quality of the automobile your doctor and hospital administrators drive).
If you want the empirical case on wait times, great post by Aaron Carroll (which includes this chart).