hand holding smartphone with floating symbols above it (Photo: Shutterstock)

“I’m sorry, Mr. Patient, but we are waiting for authorization from your insurance company before we can schedule your procedure.”  Given that many families meet their insurance deductibles from routine medical issues during the year, there is always a rush at year-end to squeeze in that last procedure or two.  According to an article published in the American Medical Association blog, 44% of doctors say prior authorization (PA) requests “often or always” hold up care … 26% of physicians saying that they wait 3 days or more to receive authorization.  UnitedHealthCare stated, ‘our standard turnaround time is 10-14 days, but if the physician requests “expedited” turnaround, we can generally complete those in 24-72 hours.’ 

Another maddening aspect of health insurers is sitting on hold, sometimes for nearly an hour, to simply be able to initiate a three-way call with the provider and the insurer so that they can swap fax numbers with each other… Really, fax numbers?  If you are a network provider, shouldn’t your contractual agreement already contain all the contact information?  Why does a policyholder have to connect the two?  With UHC covering more than 70 million members, a network of 1.3 million physicians, and 6,000 hospitals, it’s their obligation to lead the industry toward a better experience.    

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