Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

The Vocation of Denying Insurance Claims
September 16, 2009, 10:12 am
Filed under: Politics, Elections, and Government, Social Action & Social Justice

Monday on KQED-FM’s “Forum” the Washington Post journalist T.R. Reid spoke about his new book based on his exploration of different health care systems in the world.   I believe he said that $50 million a year on employees whose only job is to process, and largely deny, reimbursement claims.  Denial of claims is a key to cost-cutting and profit-making for private insurers.

A question arose about the loss of all those claim-processing jobs.  Reid paraphrased an economist who said the nation would be better off paying half those people to dig ditches and the other half to fill them up.

If we change our health care system to eliminate the claim-denying bureaucracy, Reid said, a better plan would be to train those folks to be nurses’ or physicians’ assistants, to work in health-promotion and disease prevention activities, or any manner of productive work related to health care.

In a recent post I wrote about the benefit of seeing our work, no matter how mundane, low-paid, or routine, as part of a bigger picture, perhaps even an expression of purpose or calling.   Given the millions of people whose job it is to deny claims, I’m wondering how they could look at their work from this angle.  Is it possible?

When we have to deal with a claim-denying bureaucrat on the phone it can be quite frustrating; surely they are in a difficult position if they have any empathy at all.   Is this kind of work “just a job” or is it a “soul-killing job, but at least it’s a job” or is it a worthwhile job because it benefits the company shareholders?  Perhaps many of them see their calling as doing what it takes to earn enough money to keep their children fed and housed or to save for a child’s future college expenses.

What do you think?


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