Health Insurers Drive American Doctors’ Costs Up Nearly 4X, Study Says

One of the most commonly bemoaned aspects of the American health care system by advocates of a single payer plan- that Americans on average pay far more for a far less comprehensive standard of care- is how doctors are mired in the costs and labor of dealing with health insurance companies, a new study finds.

Unlike their Canadian peers, American docs spend a significant amount of money and time on health plans- resources that could be allocated to providing care, not to mention upping their margins- at $82,975 in the US per per physician, versus $22,205 for Canadian docs. The study, published in the August issue of Health Affairs, also finds that American doctors spend nearly three and a half hours per week directly interacting with health plans, versus 2.2 hours a week for physicians in Canada.

For nurses and medical assistants in the US, that number skyrockets to over 20 hours a week, compared to 2.6 hours per nurse or medical assistant in Canada. Inefficiencies could be rooted out, the study says, by managing more information via electronic means than paper, phone or fax.

Would you like to see America convert to single payer health care plans, or do you prefer the private health insurance system?