Patients' frustrations with health insurance paperwork are well-known. But it's also a frustrating tangle for doctors and their staffs. CNN reports about one innovative practice that has decided to take on the insurance paperwork monster — by completely avoiding it.
Dr. Val Jones joined a small practice, DocTalker Family Medicine in Vienna, Virginia, where the doctors do not even take insurance. They charge a simple, relatively low fee for each service. That's it. The doctors at DocTalker grew tired of seeing patients struggle with baffling insurance paperwork while both their health and wealth were on the line. Jones does not believe the insurance industry set out to cultivate the paperwork jungle. She thinks it just grew over time. But now that it is there, she suspects they are making so much money off of it, that there is no real incentive to clear it up.
Former insurance industry executive Wendell Potter agrees. He said one way insurers make money is by allowing confusion to reign. "And people often just give up," Potter said, "and don't pursue payment when a claim has been denied or been paid inappropriately or not adequately. And the same is true with doctors and hospitals." He believes billions of dollars are at stake.