Dealing with billing, care preauthorization requests and other health plan communications costs the typical U.S. physician about 4 times as much as it costs a typical physician in Ontario.
A team of researchers led by Dante Morra of the University of Toronto has published that finding in an article in the August edition of Health Affairs, a health finance and delivery journal.
The researchers have based their findings on a survey of about 423 Canadian family physicians, specialists and managers of practices with 3 or more doctors, and a comparison with results from a similar survey of U.S. physicians and group practice managers that was conducted in 2009.
The average amount of time spent dealing with health plans was about 3.4 hours per week for U.S. doctors and 2.2 hours per week for doctors in Ontario.
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When the researchers looked at nurses and clerical staffers as well as physicians, the difference was bigger: the amount of time that physicians, nurses and clerical staffers spend dealing with health plans averaged about 77 hours per week at U.S. practices and about 21 hours per week at Ontario practices.
The researchers found that senior group practice administrators also spent some time dealing with health plans.