Saving Billions of Dollars—And Physicians’ Time—By Streamlining Billing Practices

Health Affairs Web Exclusive
Vol. 29, No. 6
April 29, 2010
Blanchfield, B.B., Heffernan, J.L., Osgood, B., Sheehan, R.R., and G.S. Meyer

The U.S. system of billing third parties for health care services is complex, expensive, and inefficient. Physicians end up using nearly 12 percent of their net patient service revenue to cover the costs of excessive administrative complexity. A single transparent set of payment rules for multiple payers, a single claim form, and standard rules of submission, among other innovations, would reduce the burden on the billing offices of physician organizations. On a national scale, our hypothetical modeling of these changes would translate into $7 billion of savings annually for physician and clinical services. Four hours of professional time per physician and five hours of practice support staff time could be saved each week.

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