Doctors spend more time filling insurance paperwork than caring for patients: Expert

Bureaucratic paperwork has led to an increase in physician burnout, expert says

Doctors spend more time filling insurance paperwork than caring for patients: Expert

Life & Health

By Lyle Adriano

An industry expert says that doctors are so buried in insurance paperwork, they are spending less time taking care of patients.

In an opinion piece, Dr. Benjamin Kaplan – an internal medicine physician with 10 years of experience associated with Orlando Health – shared his personal experiences and views on the matter.

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“In just the last four years, bureaucratic paperwork has contributed to a 25% increase in physician burnout,” Kaplan wrote in his article on Pensacola News Journal. “As a doctor, I have seen how more and more time is taken up with duplicative forms, redundant paperwork and unnecessary procedural rules, all of which have grown in direct proportion to the complexity of today’s health insurance plans.”

Kaplan explained that the average doctor would have to participate “in at least a dozen” managed care plans to stay competitive – not counting Medicare of any of the 50 independently-administered state Medicaid programs. This translates into a lot of form-filling for doctors to go through.

“Most of my colleagues wanted to be doctors because they had a strong desire to help heal the sick and alleviate the suffering,” he said. “Yet, like me, they now spend more time reading procedural rules and entering routine data than diagnosing illness or comforting patients.”

According to estimates by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the average doctor does two hours of administrative “desk” work for every hour spent engaging with patients.

“Paperwork costs doctors far more than the extra administrative burden,” Kaplan pointed out, citing data from the ACP.

“On average, a doctor spends anywhere from $68,000 to $85,000 a year (about 14% of total revenue, or almost one-third of a primary care physician’s salary) on billing and insurance company issues.”

Kaplan also noted that, collectively, the insurance filling process comprises about 18% of the nation’s total healthcare spending. He hints that if a more efficient way of providing healthcare was created, total healthcare costs could be reduced by almost a fifth.

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