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Access to physicians means more than their numbers

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Adequate access to physicians doesn’t just mean the number of physicians in an area.

For a study it did,  the consulting and physician-search firm Merritt Hawkins considered 32 other factors besides just a state’s physician supply, such as the percentage of residents without health insurance, the poverty rate, the percentage of physicians who accept Medicaid patients, nurse practitioners per capita, and retail clinics per capita.

Merritt Hawkins said that patients in the Northeast enjoy the best access to physicians.”The general pattern is, the more affluent states have the best access, and the less affluent have the least,”  Phillip Miller, vice president of communications at Merritt Hawkins, told Medscape.

Previous Merritt Hawkins studies have found that Massachusetts led all states in access, even though Boston had the longest wait times for physician appointments among major U.S. cities.

“Where you have near-universal insurance coverage, that creates a lot of demand,” Mr, Miller told Medscape. For measuring access, his firm decided that “we’d rather have people covered who are standing in line for a doctor than people not standing in line at all.”

In addition to Massachusetts, the top 10 states with the greatest access to physicians are, in descending order: New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut.




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