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AMA Report Card Rates Insurers

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A report card that compares how quickly and accurately health insurers pay doctors was released Monday by the American Medical Association. The report card, based on an analysis of three million claims, compares Medicare and seven national commercial insurers, the Associated Press reported.

About 98 percent of medical services billed were paid by Medicare at the contracted rate, compared with 71 percent for Aetna and 62 percent for United Healthcare, which had the lowest rate of contract compliance.

Doctors and their billing services share responsibility for prompt payment, United Healthcare spokesman Gregory Thompson told AP.

"Data show there is often a significant lag time between when services are provided and physician claims are submitted," he said.

The aim of the report card is to lower claims processing costs and help doctors negotiate contracts with insurance companies, the AP reported. A reduction in wasteful administration costs (estimated at $210 billion a year) will help patients, said Dr. William Dolan, an AMA board member.

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