An improving economy and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems likely to drive an increase in the frequency of physician visits. According to Crittenden’s Medical Insurance newsletter, the anticipated rise in diagnosis, surgical and treatment claims will be a pressing concern for insurers in the next few years.
Last year, diagnosis claims filing rose by 1 percent, surgical claims filing by 4 percent, and treatment claims filing by 6 percent. Physician frequency in these areas declined sharply during the economic downturn, and has not yet returned to peak levels reached a decade ago. The decline led to excess capacity in most markets, with physicians and hospitals struggling to fill schedules. As a result, the current increase seems unlikely to boost rates for services.
One wildcard factor, of course, is the impact of the ACA. While more people will have insurance, and many people will have more benefits that previously available, the impact of high copayments and deductibles is still uncertain. In the meantime, insurers and underwriters will be monitoring utilization and frequency carefully for impact on future rates.
Chivaroli and Associates Insurance Services is a full-service brokerage firm specializing in the custom-design and placement of insurance and alternative risk funding solutions for your healthcare organization.