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New Rules Set Maximum Wait Times To See A Doctor

Audio

Aired 1/10/11

California's health care system is preparing for a major shakeup on January 17th. That's when new regulations take effect that dictate maximum time a patient has to wait to get a doctor's appointment.

— California's health care system is preparing for a major shakeup on January 17th. That's when new regulations take effect that dictate maximum time a patient has to wait to get a doctor's appointment.

The new rules are the first of their kind in the country.

They cover patients in HMOs, and those enrolled in PPOs with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Patients must be given an appointment within ten business days to see a primary care doctor, and 15 business days to see a specialist.

Robert Peters is a primary care doctor in San Diego. He said the rules are good for consumers.

"But I do think it's gonna impose an unreasonable burden on not just myself, but also my speciality colleagues as well," he said, "in terms of trying to get patients in to be seen within these time frames."

The rules allow doctors to bump appointments to see a patient who can't wait.

State regulators expect health plans will have to expand their networks of physicians to meet the new time restraints. Regulators will hold insurers responsible. Violators will be subject to fines.

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