Timely Access to Non-Emergency Health Care Services

Beginning in 2011, California will become the first state to set time limits for doctors to see HMO-enrolled patients. For example, patients seeking an appointment must be seen by family practitioners and mental healthcare providers within 10 business days and by specialists within 15 business days. Every HMO must ensure that they have sufficient providers to meet these new regulations. The 21 million Californians who currently subscribe to HMO plans will receive more timely access to care, which experts predict will reduce inappropriate use of emergency rooms. A shortage of physicians in California is expected to be an obstacle to compliance with this new regulation.

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