Survey: Half of all doctors weigh quitting over dangerous insurance policies, red tape

by WorldTribune Staff, January 29, 2019

The current state of health insurance and regulations in the United States has physicians so stressed that nearly half are considering changing careers while two-thirds would recommend against pursuing a career in medicine, a study found.

The Aimed Alliance also found that nearly nine in ten doctors believe barriers set by insurance plans have led to worsened conditions for patients.

“I can understand why many of the respondents reported that they would not recommend this career to anyone else,” Dr. Shannon Ginnan, medical director of Aimed Alliance, told StudyFinds. “As practitioners, much of our time is spent on burdensome paperwork required from health insurers for our services to be paid for. 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.”

Researchers with Aimed Alliance, a non-profit that seeks to protect and enhance the rights of health care consumers and providers, polled 600 physicians in the U.S. practicing either family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, or obstetrics/gynecology.

The study found that 48 percent of doctors said they are considering a career change and two-thirds said they wouldn’t recommend medicine as a career.

Researchers found that “physicians don’t think very highly of health insurance companies, and believe they’re putting patients at risk with policies such as prior authorizations ahead of filling prescriptions.”

In the study, 87 percent of doctors say patients’ conditions have grown worse because of such red-tape, and 83 percent worry the patients will suffer prolonged pain as a result.

“Beyond the harm that doctors say insurance policies cause patients in need of care, they also agree that patients are taking a hit in their bank accounts too,” the study found. “Doctors believe that insurers are contributing to the rising cost of healthcare more than anything else, including pharmaceutical companies, government policies, lawsuits, or hospitals.”

More than nine in ten (91 percent) of those surveyed said insurers engage in “non-medical switching,” which forces patients to take less costly – but potentially less effective – medicines.

Thirty-seven percent in the study said half or more of their daily stress is caused by insurance issues, and 65 percent feel they’re facing greater legal risks because of decisions made by insurers. The vast majority (85 percent) are left frustrated by such issues, and many admit to taking their anger and emotions out on their staff and even family members.

The survey showed that 77 percent of doctors have had to hire more staffers to handle the heavier administrative load from insurance work. Ninety-percent say they have less time to spend with patients because of the burden.

As for the aspect of insurers’ policies that doctors would like to see changed most, the majority (55 percent) agreed on an insurers’ ability to override the professional judgment of physicians. About nine out of ten (87 percent) respondents felt that insurer personnel interfere with their ability to provide individualized treatments for each patient.

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