Uncompensated medical provider costs associated with prior authorization for prescription medications in an HIV clinic

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

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Document Type



Alabama; Ambulatory Care; Anti-HIV Agents; Female; HIV Infections; *Health Care Costs; *Health Personnel; Health Services Administration; Humans; Male; Prescriptions


Bioinformatics | Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


Although prior authorization (PA) for prescription medications is widely employed for cost-containment for third-party insurers, it is a frustrating aspect of outpatient clinical care that imposes uncompensated costs to medical providers. To characterize these costs, we monitored the PA-associated administrative and operational process at the University of Alabama at Birmingham 1917 HIV Clinic over a 2-year period. A total of 288 PAs were processed with a mean (+/- standard deviation [SD]) of 3.1+/-5.8 days delay in the patient's access to medication. A mean (+/-SD) of 26.8+/-18.4 min was spent by the nurse practitioner and 6.5+/-2.9 min was spent by a clerk per PA. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of PAs were approved, 18% were denied, and 10% were voided. The mean (+/-SD) pages of paperwork was 5.8+/-6.5. The overall cost was $41.60 per PA. Although evidence supports that PA reduces third-party expenditures, it significantly delays medication accessibility for patients and imposes high costs that negatively impact operating margins for health care providers.

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Citation: Clin Infect Dis. 2010 Sep 15;51(6):718-24. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America