HCPLive Network

Insurance Authorization Doesn't Lengthen Psychiatric Emergency Stay

THURSDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- For psychiatric patients, the requirement to obtain authorization from insurance companies prior to admission does not seem to add to the total time spent in emergency departments, according to a study published in the May issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Amy Funkenstein, MD, from Brown University, in Providence, RI, and colleagues examined whether the prior authorization requirement added to the overall length of a psychiatric patient's wait by tabulating the length of stay in the Cambridge Health Alliance psychiatric emergency department and amount of time spent obtaining authorization from the insurer. Data were collected for 53 patients who were mainly Caucasian and aged 7 to 68 years.

The researchers found that the average time from first contact with the insurance company to granting or denial of authorization was 38 minutes. Half of the authorization requests took less than 20 minutes to be approved, while 10 percent took an hour or more and one case took five hours. The median time spent in the emergency department was 8.5 hours.

"Our findings indicate that the need to obtain prior authorization does not add much time to the total time psychiatric patients spend in emergency departments," the authors write. "Furthermore, if the preauthorization process does help contain costs, it does so largely through a deterrent effect -- we call it 'rationing by hassle factor' -- given that in all but one case physician requests for authorization were granted."

Full Text

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Further Reading
Changes would decrease number of refills before returning to doctor; supplies lasting 90 days.
Exposure to emergency department crowding correlates with acute coronary syndrome-induced posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms one month after ACS, according to a research letter published online Feb. 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Planning and preparation prior to a disaster, developing networks of contacts with other medical personnel and facilities, avoiding overburdening medical staff and personnel in the aftermath of a disaster, and effectively treating PTSD and other mental health disorders are the keys to disaster preparedness.
The cognitive effects of concussion can last for several months in children; and sleep disturbance correlates with concussion symptoms.
Fighting-related injuries in adolescents are tied to subsequent negative impacts on cognitive function and intelligence.
In critically ill patients requiring ventilation, haloperidol treatment does not affect the amount of time alive without delirium or coma compared with placebo.
Nearly one-quarter of teenagers misuse or abuse a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, with perceived parental permissiveness linked to misuse and abuse of prescription drugs as well as use of alcohol and marijuana.
More Reading