Across Massachusetts, people have been struggling to make appointments with primary care physicians, with doctors saying demand is higher than ever at a time when an increasing number of providers are leaving the field.
The problems are further straining the state’s health care system, potentially leaving patients sicker and in need of more intensive care down the road.
Those who identify as Black or Hispanic reported the most difficulty accessing primary care. In 2021, only 64 percent of Hispanic residents, 70.3 percent of Black residents, and 73.7 percent of Asian residents reported that they had a preventive care visit in the last 12 months, compared with 81 percent of white residents. Patient advocacy groups say the situation has become so dire in immigrant communities that some children have been unable to attend school or day care because they couldn’t get their annual physicals and vaccinations.
Mara Da Silva, a counselor at patient advocacy organization Health Care For All, said patients on MassHealth who speak no English have the most trouble getting appointments. Despite requirements for providers who accept MassHealth to make translation services available, many do not. If Da Silva can find a provider with an opening, sometimes they call to confirm the appointment in English and cancel it when the patient cannot understand the request.
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