Update: On Aug. 1, 2023, UHC announced the codes for which prior authorization would be eliminated. Because many of the codes on the removal list are low-volume codes in primary care, this change is unlikely to have a significant impact on family physicians. While reductions in prior authorization requirements will occur across all UHC lines of business, the specific reductions will vary by plan type.
UnitedHealthcare (UHC) recently announced it will reduce the burden of prior authorizations (PA) across most of its commercial, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid plans.
UHC is eliminating prior authorization requirements for codes that account for roughly 20% of its current PA volume, with reductions beginning in the third quarter of the year. The PA reduction process will comply with state and federal requirements, as well as existing commercial health plan contracts.
In early 2024, UHC also plans to implement a national “Gold Card Program” for eligible physician groups that will eliminate PA requirements for most procedures. Qualifying physician groups will be able to follow a notification process for most procedure codes, rather than a prior authorization process.
UHC is also using more automation to improve the PA experience and speed decisions, and it plans to introduce a new feature allowing patients to track their PA requests online at myuhc.com or through the company’s mobile app.
The announcement of UHC’s changes comes after years of advocacy by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and other groups, urging insurance companies and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reduce the burden PA places on physicians and other health care professionals. The gold card program is one of the changes the groups specifically requested. The AAFP has asked UHC to also include medications in the program.
• Beating the Prior Authorization Blues [FPM article],
• Family Medicine Practice Hacks: Prior Authorization [AAFP video],
— Brennan Cantrell, AAFP Commercial Health Insurance Strategist
Posted on April 3, 2023
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