The Maryland Attorney General’s Office and
, the state medical society, are partnering in a program that protects consumers from insurance company abuses. Launched last month, Insurance Watch enables physicians in the state to file complaints online on behalf of their patients.
The Attorney General’s Health Education and Advocacy Unit has long accepted written claims filed by physicians when an insurance company refuses to cover a patient’s medical care and other insurance payment issues.
MedChi asked to be involved when a survey found that physicians were not filing the paper forms. “We wanted to make it easy for physicians,” MedChi CEO Gene Ransom says.
Physicians can opt to have the complaint sent to the Attorney General’s Office only or to MedChi as well. If they choose the latter, MedChi will monitor the complaint, which often goes to mediation.
According to David Paulson, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, more than 2,000 complaints were filed in 2011, resulting in over $1 million in claims and recovery on behalf of patients.
With the new, online system, Paulson expects the number of filed complaints to increase. “The doctors are pleased” with Insurance Watch, he says. “It’s a smart way to communicate with them, and for them to communicate with their patients.”
Che Parker, spokesman for Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic, says the health insurer has no objections to the program.
“Doctors and patients are free to use established processes and procedures to surface concerns to insurance regulators and other venues established for that purpose,” he says. “We trust those concerns will be appropriately resolved in those venues.”
Sources: Gene Ransom, MedChi; David Paulson, Maryland Attorney General’s Office; Che Parker, Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic
Writer: Barbara Pash