Administrative tasks related to healthcare create burdens for U.S. patients

A new study published in Health Services Research found that many U.S. patients are burdened by administrative tasks related to their medical care. Such administrative tasks include appointment scheduling, obtaining information from an insurer or provider, obtaining prior authorizations, resolving insurance or provider billing issues, and resolving insurance premium problems.

In the survey-based study of 4,155 non-elderly adults, nearly three-quarters of respondents reported doing at least one healthcare-related administrative task in the past year, and nearly one-quarter of respondents reported delaying or foregoing needed care due to administrative tasks. Previous research has found that a similar proportion of patients have postponed or avoided needed care due to costs.

Administrative burdens fell disproportionately on people with high medical needs, such as those with disabilities. Also, existing racial and socioeconomic inequities were associated with greater administrative burdens.

“Financial costs are rightly a big focus in health policy, but our findings suggest patients’ administrative burdens are consequential and deserve attention from researchers, practitioners, and policymakers,” said corresponding author Michael Anne Kyle, Ph.D., of Harvard University.