The business side of medical practice can sometimes be a bigger challenge than ferreting out a difficult diagnosis. Inflation-adjusted physician income has declined about 7% since 1995, according to a June 2006 study by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Flat or declining fees from both public and private payers are cited as a primary factor. Add to that excessive payment delays and too-frequent denials from insurance companies, and the business of practicing medicine continues to frustrate doctors.
Explore this issue:September 2006
On the other hand, there may be an electronic light at the end of the financial tunnel. More physicians-otolaryngologists-head and neck surgeons included-are utilizing electronic billing systems, resulting in faster payments and fewer denials.
A May 2006 study by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national association of health insurers, indicates that three-quarters of all health insurance claims are now submitted electronically, up from 24% in 1995, allowing 98 percent of claims to be processed within a month of receipt from the health-care provider, the AHIP said. Further, the study found that insurers now process a majority of claims within a week of receipt.