Lifestyle
Well-off more likely to get doctor's appointment: Study

Credits: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE

QMI AGENCY

People who appear to be well-off financially are more likely to get an appointment with a doctor than those who don't, according to an article published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

While Canada's universal health-care system compensates doctors equally for every patient, a survey showed people who seemed to be of high socioeconomic status were more often given an appointment -- 23% versus 14% -- and more often offered a screening visit or place on a waiting list -- 37% versus 24%.

The findings come from phone calls to family doctors in Toronto in which a researcher posed as either a bank employee or a welfare recipient, and either as a patient with chronic health conditions (diabetes and back pain) or no major conditions. They got responses from 375 offices, usually from administrative staff.

Senior author Dr. Stephen Hwang said the study is "evidence of discrimination by physicians" offices on the basis of socioeconomic status."

A positive finding of the study was that callers who claimed to have chronic health conditions were nearly twice as likely to get an appointment as those who didn't (24% versus 13%).

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