Following Complaint Letter, No "Mystery Shopper" Study of Doctors


The Obama Administration had planned a survey to test how difficult it is for Medicaid and Medicare patients to get appointments with doctors. But following criticism about the cost of the study and the "proposed clandestine method of collecting information from physician offices," the study has been canceled.

For data collection, the study called for mystery shoppers, who would pose as patients. In a letter, Senator Mark Kirk emphasized the "stealth" nature of the plan and his belief that the purpose of the study -- to prove a shortage of doctors -- has already been documented.

Watch a related video: President Obama's discussion of Medicare.

Video source.

 Discussion Starters:

  • What research was the Obama Administration trying to gather that they believed could only be obtained through mystery shoppers? In other words, what was the value of using mystery shoppers for this study?
  • From reading Senator Kirk's letter, do you consider the original study with mystery shoppers to be ethical for this purpose? Why or why not?