Physicians across the country are worried insurance companies will not go the extra mile, to ensure their practices continue, during the COVID-19 outbreak. Robert McLean, MD, MACP, and president of the American College of Physicians (ACP), has stated he has heard from those of smaller physician practices, that soon their company will not be able to make payroll. Seeing the growing problem accelerate at a rapid pace, the ACP sent guidelines and recommendations to the biggest health insurance organizations (Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, etc.), on how they can help physicians continue their work. In addition to the guidelines listed below, HCPs are asking for more emergency medical equipment be given to hospitals, more coronavirus testing kits, and a temporary pause on billing.
The recommendations these letters outlined include, allowing co-pay payments for telemedicine services throughout the duration of this crisis. Paying for telephone or other electronic communication evaluation and management (E/M) services at the same price as an in-person evaluation. A guarantee old and new patients will be covered for telemedicine treatments and easing of the credential process, such as waiving credential fees, temporary postponing revalidation efforts and having access to toll-free hotlines for temporary billing privileges.
Physicians are trying to make it clear, that although they have appreciated everything health insurance companies have provided for them during this difficult time, without more help many HCPs could potentially lose their job and in turn hundreds of thousands of lives could be lost.
Private health insurance company complaints:
Recently, private health insurance companies have come into question for helping clog America’s hospitals. Many physicians are frustrated by the fact that in hospitals, perfectly healthy, stable people are still in hospital beds, when they should have been released or moved into a rehab facility. These patients, however, are stuck in place until their private health care company can approve of their next steps, which could take days. Physicians have claimed this has always been an insufficient process, but now with a glaring need for medical supplies and hospital beds, the issue becomes more prominent and evident. Earlier this year president Trump signed for a telemedicine provisionary under a Medicare plan, a public insurance plan made for older American citizens, that includes allowing physicians to get paid equally for in-person and remote consultations, and allowing computer programs such as Skype, to be used for telemedicine purposes. However, private health insurance companies claim they do not need to follow the same rules and regulations which has led to more complications and confusion between the HCPs and insurance companies.