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Analysis

Over 40% of Anesthesiologists Saw Contracts Terminated in Past Six Months

By Jack O'Brien  
   February 28, 2020

Still, only less than 10% of anesthesiologist claims are out-of-network, according to a recent survey.

Just over two-in-five anesthesiologists reported having a contract terminated by a health plan in the last six months, according to American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) survey released Thursday.

Approximately the same amount of anesthesiologists experienced "dramatic" payment cuts from insurers, sometimes by up to 60%.

Related: Northwell Pioneers Black Boxes in Operating Rooms for Performance Improvement

Still, only less than 10% of anesthesiologist claims are out-of-network, though the ASA stated that it will continue to monitor the actions by health plans that expose patients to out-of-network billing.

"This survey appears to confirm what we have been hearing from our members: that insurers may be forcing more physicians to be out of network to shore up their profits while negatively impacting patients," Mary Dale Peterson, M.D.,  MSHCA, FACHE, FASA, president of the ASA, said in a statement. "ASA is committed to ending surprise medical bills and is extremely disappointed to hear that insurance companies may be taking advantage of current legislative efforts to hurt patients and physicians."

Related: More than 60% of Medicare Enrollees Concerned With Surprise Medical Bills

The health insurer most cited by respondents for terminating contracts was United Healthcare, followed by Aetna, Cigna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

in mid-December, congressional leaders announced the expansion of a bipartisan investigation into surprise billing practices by both providers and payers. United, Anthem, and Cigna are all included in the probe, among other healthcare companies.

The survey was also released almost a month after the House Ways & Means Committee released its proposal to curb surprise medical billing. The proposal includes a provision to establish an independent mediated negotiation process for billing disagreements.

Some survey respondents stated that insurers informed them that the reason for terminating contracts was the "anticipated legislative changes on surprise medical bills."

Related: House Ways & Means Committee Releases Surprise Billing Legislation

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


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