Cost of Interacting With Payers Higher in U.S. Than Canada

U.S. physicians and nursing staff spend more time and money interacting with health plans

FRIDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Physician practices in the United States spend considerably more on interactions with health plans than Canadian practices, according to a study published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

Dante Morra, M.D., M.B.A., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues compared the costs incurred by Canadian and U.S. physicians and administrators in interacting with payers. Estimations of the costs to physicians from Ontario, Canada, who interact with a single Canadian payer, were compared to the costs incurred by U.S. practices, which interact with multiple health plans.

The investigators found that physician practices in the United States spent $82,975 per physician per year interacting with multiple agencies, while in Canada, the amount was $22,205 per physician per year. U.S. nursing staff, including medical assistants, spent nearly 10 times the amount of time interacting with health plans, at 20.6 hours per physician per week, compared to their Canadian counterparts. An estimated $27.6 billion per year would be saved by U.S. physicians if their administrative costs were similar to those of Ontario physicians.

"The results support the opinion shared by many U.S. health care leaders interviewed for this study that interactions between physician practices and health plans could be performed much more efficiently," the authors write.

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