Obama 'Mystery Shoppers' to Check Doctors' Access

They'll try to see whether physicians give preference to private insurance
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2011 6:39 AM CDT
Obama Administration Hires 'Mystery Shoppers' to Check Doctors' Availability
Doctors' offices will be getting some phony calls soon to test access.   (Shutterstock)

The Obama administration fears there are too few primary care doctors to go around—so it’s launching a team of “mystery shoppers” to look into the physicians’ availability. The undercover callers will seek appointments at doctors’ offices nationwide to determine ease of access. Some will say they’ve got private insurance, while others will say they’re on public plans; the administration hopes to discover whether doctors discriminate between the two, reports the New York Times.

With the limited number of primary care physicians already a “critical public policy problem,” the White House says, things are about to get even tighter: The new health care law will mean another 30 million Americans will have health coverage, and “these newly insured Americans will need to seek out new primary care physicians.” But some doctors aren’t thrilled with the “mystery shopper” idea. “If federal officials are worried about access to care, they could help us," one tells the Times. "They don’t have to spy on us,” (More Obama administration stories.)

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