Obamacare May Leave Doctors With Unpaid Bills

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 07:14 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Doctors are being warned that arcane Obamacare insurance reimbursement policies could leave them unable to collect payment for treatments rendered, the American Medical Association said.

The Affordable Care Act provides patients who obtain subsidized coverage through state insurance exchanges with a 90-day grace period before their policies can be canceled for non-payment. Insurers do not have to pay physicians for services incurred during the last 60 days of a policy that has been terminated for non-payment.

This means that insurers are permitted to retroactively deny patients coverage when a policy is terminated at the conclusion of the grace period.

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"The grace period rule imposes a risk for uncompensated care on physicians," AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven said in a statement, "Managing risk is typically a role for insurers, but the grace period rule transfers two-thirds of that risk from the insurers to physicians and health care providers."

The AMA has issued guidelines to help physicians minimize the chances they will be stuck with unpaid patient bills. These include suggested administrative policies for doctors and proposed financial agreements for patients to sign in which they directly assume liability for unpaid insurance bills.

The association has also urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to modify the grace period regulation so that physicians are promptly notified if a patient is not paying their insurance premiums.

The AMA supported Obamacare's passage though most physicians disapproved of the association's stance. Polling of doctors also shows they are skeptical that the Affordable Care Act will improve medical service delivery or help them make a living, The Daily Caller reported.

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