See if this doesn’t leave you shaking your head…. a story in the New York Times about access to dermatologists:
- If you have a mole, and suspect skin cancer, you’ll have to wait an average of 26 days to get an appointment with a dermatologist.
- If you want a botox injection to eradicate your wrinkles, that same dermatologist will see you within 8 days.
How did they arrive at those numbers? Researchers posed as patients and called every board-certified dermatologist in eight major cities across the US, and requested appointments. That’s how.
Oh, by the way. The dermatologists make $400 to $600 per botox injection — paid directly from the patient’s pocket. They make $50 to $75 in reimbursements for taking a look at a mole. And that’s pretty much wiped out by the paychecks they have to cough up for the staff that has to do the billing work.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Now see if this makes you roll your eyes: Dr. Jack S. Resneck Jr., the lead author of the study and an assistant dermatology professor at the medical school of the University of California, San Francisco provided this summary, “We need to look further and figure out what is leading to shorter wait times for cosmetic patients.”
Gee, Dr. Resneck. I don’t think you have to look too far. Why not consult a few of those rocket science colleagues you have and ask them? Maybe it has something to do with the differences in how much money the dermatologist can make?
This might surprise you — I honestly don’t blame the dermatologists. Not one bit. Don’t forget — they are business people first. They have to pay the rent, keep the lights on, and pay their staffs (medical AND billing) — because if they don’t, then the wait time for getting a mole examined will be forever.
As patients, we should be appalled that our American healthcare system has been reduced to this.
And here’s a suggestion: Next time you have strange looking mole, call your dermatologist and ask for a botox appointment. Once you get there, you can tell them you’ve changed your mind.
A patient’s gotta do what a patient’s gotta do.
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