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When insurance coverage for pediatric reconstructive procedures is denied, a stressful and time-consuming appeals process ensues. This article discusses the results of a micro cost analysis performed to better understand the time and monetary burden that the insurance process places on our clinic and families. We also advise plastic surgeons on how to appeal insurance denials for necessary reconstructive procedures.
Our micro cost analysis focused on patients with congenital breast anomalies who were denied insurance coverage during the preservice insurance authorization process. We surveyed staff and family members to determine the steps involved in the insurance process and how long each person spent on each step. We combined this with average compensation data to calculate cost.
For the 5 patients included in our analysis, the insurance process took an average of 7.4 hours of institutional time and cost $521.43 per patient. All patients were denied coverage during prior authorization and required a peer-to-peer, and all denials occurred because surgery was deemed cosmetic or not medically necessary.
This analysis estimated the time and monetary cost of the insurance process in our department. Access to care was limited by prior authorization and the opinion of medical directors that these procedures are unnecessary or cosmetic. We encourage plastic surgeons to continue to perform patient-centered outcomes research in their practice to build on literature that proves the functional and psychosocial benefits of reconstructive procedures.

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