Study: Medical practices spend $21B to $31B per year working with health plans

The time doctors and staff spend working with health plans adds up to $21 billion to $31 billion per year, according to a new study conducted by the Medical Group Management Association and several universities.

The study, which appears in Health Affairs, concludes that physicians spend three hours per week, or about 43 minutes on average each work day, interacting with health plans. This translates to about $68,000 per physician per year on average, researchers found.

Primary care physicians spend more time working with health plans than medical or surgical specialists, researchers concluded. Meanwhile, nurses spend nearly four hours per physician per day working with health plans, and clerical staffers spend 7.2 hours per day. Solo practitioners and staffers spend up to 50 percent more time with health plans than physicians in bigger practices.

When they interact with health plans, practices spend the most time dealing with formularies, with doctors spending 1.3 hours per week and nurses 3.6 hours per week. Primary care physicians spend the most time, at 1.7 hours per week, on formulary issues.

To learn more about this study:
- read the MGMA press release