Waiting hours to see a doctor, and patients billing physicians for lost time

After waiting hours to see the doctor for a 2-minute visit, some patients have resorted to giving a bill to their physician.

It sounds extreme, but economist Alan Krueger writes that the cost of patient waiting, estimated to be $240 billion in 2007, is neglected when considering the cost of health care.

I’ll be the first to admit that many doctors do not appropriately value patient time, and, under normal circumstances, there is no excuse for a physician to run more than 30 minutes behind.

I concur with Mr. Krueger when he writes, “The time that patients spend seeking, receiving and paying for health care services is just as real as the dollars they spend for medical services.”

However, patient time is not valued by the physician compensation system. Doctors are incentivized to see as many patients, and do as many procedures, as possible.

If doctors were allowed to bill for time, as lawyers do, I suspect you will see a much greater value and respect for patients’ time.

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