The State of Vermont is promoting tools to help people schedule appointments with busy doctors "within a reasonable timeframe," essentially telling residents not to let lengthy wait times prevent them from obtaining medical care.
Seven Days detailed the problem of long wait times for medical appointments in a cover story last month, recounting how patients are waiting up to a year for certain specialty care at the state's largest hospital, the University of Vermont Medical Center. The state is now investigating the issue and says it hopes to share its findings by the end of the year.
The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation's announcement on Thursday highlights several online consumer tools that help people find new doctors when the ones they seek out initially have extended wait times.
and Vermont Medicaid's transportation portal, which eligible people can use to secure rides to and from appointments.
Vermonters insured by Cigna in need of help finding doctors are encouraged to call either the number on the back of their insurance card or 1-800-244-6224. And anyone struggling to navigate the health care system is encouraged to contact the Office of the Health Care Advocate by calling 1-800-917-7787 or filling out an online request form.
"The team can answer questions, help point the consumer in the right direction or possibly assist resolving the matter altogether,” Mike Fisher, Vermont’s chief health care advocate, said in a news release.
The release adds that people covered by commercial insurance may be able to visit providers outside of their network for in-network rates when there are no in-network providers "available and accessible on a timely basis." People who encounter issues with their health insurance providers can contact the Department of Financial Regulation’s consumer services team at 800-964-1784 or email@example.com.