The American Medical Association (AMA) just released its National Health Insurer Report Card. The results show the increased demand on physicians' offices to be bill collectors. The report examines how the complex health care arena places financial burden on patients and often puts physicians in the awkward position of asking for payment.
The study found that patients are responsible for almost 25 percent of their medical bills, mostly due to higher deductibles and co-pays. Additionally, the report looked at the financial burden associated with processing complicated claims. Physicians spend an average of $2.36 per claim wading through the red tape. The AMA estimates $12 billion could be saved annually if insurers could stream-line the administrative process of paying medical claims.
The AMA points out that patients are often surprised by the amount they are obligated to pay. Physicians are considered the bearers of bad news. Additionally, the billing process becomes more complicated for patients and doctors. The addition of third-party administrator type insurance claims means there are more places that physicians need to collect from. Each payer has their own rules about how they want to pay, complicating the entire process.
Dr. Barbara McAneny, an AMA board member, emphasized that physicians now have to "collect a significant amount of money they're contracted to be paid from patients who are often unaware they are going to have to pay part of the fee." She admits collections is not a part of the job doctors are very good at, but adds that running an efficient office is part of surviving in this market.
A successful physician's office hinges on quality health care, as well as efficient management. As this report shows, the billing process is key to office management. Enlisting the help of a medical billing service often helps medical professionals focus on what they do best, taking care of patients.