Isaac Bowen |
Isaac Bowen |

Everyone hates having to deal with insurance companies. You only contact them when you really need them, so you typically contact them in times of crisis. That said, the last thing that anyone wants to do when they are dealing with a serious issue is deal with a bureaucracy and all the associated red tape. Interestingly enough, patients are not the only ones who loathe handling insurance claims. A recent study found that doctors feel that barriers set in place by insurance plans are not only frustrating but potentially harmful for their patients.

Researchers with Aimed Alliance found that physicians do not tend to think very highly of health insurance companies. In fact, some doctors feel that policies such as prior authorizations ahead of filling prescriptions put patients at risk. Nearly 90 percent of the surveyed doctors said that they feel their patients’ conditions have grown worse due to bureaucratic red tape, and over 80 percent worry that their patients will suffer prolonged pain as a result. They said that the policy delays necessary care for patients and is made worse by what they called “non-medical switching” where patients are forced to take medications that cost less but may be less effective.

The red tape has grown so cumbersome and appears to be harming patients enough that doctors are doing more than just complaining about a few bureaucratic headaches. Nearly half of the surveyed doctors said the insurance red tape was so frustrating that they were considering a career change, and nearly two thirds said that they would advise others against taking a career in medicine in order to avoid the madness.

“As practitioners, much of our time is spent on burdensome paperwork required from health insurers for our services to be paid for,” said Dr. Shannon Ginnan. “This prevents us from spending as much time on patient care as we would like, and it doesn’t take much for all this paperwork to interfere with the services that we provide.”

The biggest issue for most doctors is that they feel that insurers have the ability to override the professional judgement of physicians or interfere with the physicians’ ability to provide individualized treatment to patients. Other issues the surveyed doctors mentioned included needing to hire more staffers to handle the massive administration load and a sense that they are going to be liable for decisions the insurers make. While doctors may disagree on the exact issues, they do seem to be in agreement on one thing. If the paperwork load gets any worse, they are going to need doctors of their own to treat the resultant migraines.

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