Natl Med Care Util Expend Surv B. 1986 Feb; (8): 1-58.
Visits to selected health care practitioners: United States, 1980.
This report, based on data from the 1980 National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey, presents statistical estimates on visits to different types of practitioners by the noninstitutionalized civilian population of the United States. The report does not include dental visits, telephone visits, emergency room visits, or visits in which a physician was also seen. The practitioners whose visits are reported vary from the highly independent practitioners with doctorate degrees (opticians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and many psychologists); to the nurses, paramedics, social workers, and counselors who often provide services less independently; to the physical therapists and the laboratory, radiology, and other technicians who largely provide services under physician prescriptions or on teams headed by physicians. In general it was found that the most independent practitioners (optometrists, chiropractors, and podiatrists) tended most to provide services in their own facilities and to be paid directly by the patients or their families. Persons who visited technicians and physical therapists almost invariably saw a physician at least once during the year. Physicians were visited by 70.8 percent of the population. Persons seeing physicians averaged 4.5 visits to them during the year. There were nearly twice as many physician visits--by the survey's definition--than there were visits to all of the other types of practitioners reported on here. Nearly three-fourths of the physician visits took place in the doctors' offices, and about one-twentieth in doctors' clinics. The patient or the patient's family paid 40 percent of the charges for physician visits, and insurance and prepayment plans paid another 30 percent. Each of the remaining practitioner types is compared with all others and with physicians in terms of particular features of their practices. Following are some of the more notable findings for the respective practitioners: Nurses made more visits to the home than any other practitioner type. They also accounted for more clinic visits. More than half of the nurse visits for specific problems involved respiratory or circulatory diseases. Visits to nurses were the least expensive kind of visits reported. Most people who saw optometrists saw them only once or twice during the year. Optometry visits usually took place in the optometrist's office and usually involved eye examinations for glasses. The average visit was expensive, partly because it often included the cost of the eyeglasses. People who saw chiropractors tended to see them often during the year. Visits were usually in the chiropractor's office or clinic. The problems presented to chiropractors most often involved musculoskeletal diseases or injuries.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)