It can be a challenge for a family to find a doctor in Bakersfield who is accepting new patients. Many of the doctor’s offices and medical practices in Bakersfield are not accepting new patients because of the changes in health insurance, increased need, and MediCare regulations. Most physicians are working harder than ever just to provide services to the patients that they already have.

There are limits to the number of patients that a doctor can effectively care for. The average family practice physician in the United States carries 2,300 patients, while many studies suggest that a family care doctor, also called a “primary care physician,” can only effectively manage about 1,800 patients. As the number of patients goes up, the time spent with patients each visit, and the quality of care goes down. And as our population ages, there are more and more adults in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s who require more frequent office visits, and longer appointments from their doctors.

So as offices fill up around Bakersfield and the rest of Kern County, what can you do if you are now looking for a doctor to become your family’s “primary care” physician? And what criteria will you use to choose a doctor for your family?

If you choose a PPO insurance plan, your insurance company will make the decision for you – you will be given a short list of covered provides to choose from, or your will be assigned a doctor. That’s an easy process, but limiting. Outside of that process, you will want to know about availability of the doctor. This is called “patient access to care,” and the more patients the doctor or office already carries, the harder it will be to see that doctor “today or tomorrow,” when you need to see a doctor. The “average wait time” for a physician appointment varies across the country.

Patients of The Practice have an “average wait time” of 24 hours or less, and whose average face to face time with their patients exceeds 30 minutes. There are no charges for office visits or for the most common lab tests; these are included in the low monthly “membership” fee (much like being a member at a health club).