Health Insurers Cutting Anesthesiologists' Contracts

Survey shows anesthesiologists face abrupt contract terminations and dramatic cuts in payment rates

anesthesia mask

TUESDAY, March 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Insurers may be forcing more anesthesiologists to be out of network, according to survey results released by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).

A survey of ASA membership asked about changes to insurance carrier contracts within the last six months. Responses were received from 76 practice groups (ranging from 35 physicians to large national groups) in 33 different states.

Forty-two percent of respondents reported experiencing contract termination during a six-month period, affecting practices in 39 percent of the 33 states. A large percentage of respondents said they have experienced rate lowering from insurers, both mid-contract and at contract renewal (43 percent), while 47 percent of practice groups experienced contract termination or rate lowering. The insurer most associated with these changes was United Healthcare (58 percent), but Aetna, Cigna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield were also mentioned.

"ASA will continue to closely monitor the activities of these insurance companies to track how their actions will exacerbate the public's exposure to surprise medical bills," Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., president of the ASA, said in a statement. "Clearly, giving more power to the insurance companies is not the answer."

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