Readers Rail at Social Security Overpayments and Insurers’ Prior Authorizations

by | Sep 28, 2023 | Health

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names.

A registered nurse who works in New Jersey’s Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District reacted on X, formerly known as Twitter, to KFF Health News’ investigative collaboration with Cox Media Group on the federal government’s attempt to claw back money it has overpaid to Social Security beneficiaries: “Social Security Overpays Billions to People, Many on Disability. Then It Demands the Money Back” (Sept. 15).

Can I just say to tell folks that they only have 30 days to pay back any overpayments that they likely were not even aware of until they received the notice, is crazy!— Sheila Caldwell (@SCaldwell7201) September 17, 2023

— Sheila Caldwell, Aberdeen, New Jersey

A law professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah also chimed in on X:

Important @KFF @KFFHealthNewsexposé on Social Security making errors and sending people ludicrous bills to to recover overpayments. One disabled woman got a bill for $60,175.90 out of the blue. The agency suffers from underfunding/understaffing— Daniel G. Aaron, MD, JD (@MedlawDan) September 18, 2023

— Daniel G. Aaron, Salt Lake City

For Shame, UnitedHealthcare

Thank you for shining a light on one of the most infuriating insurance barriers in all of medicine: prior authorization (“Doctors and Patients Try to Shame Insurers Online to Reverse Prior Authorization Denials,” Aug. 23).

During the pandemic, many people skipped or could not access routine medical care such as colonoscopies and endoscopies. Research has long shown that these services are underutilized, especially among communities of color, which is one reason for continued disparities in colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases.

As the demand for routine diagnostic and surveillance procedures grows, it is critical to ensure that patients are not caught up in bureaucratic red tape. Unfortunately, the nation’s largest and most profitable insurer, UnitedHealthcare, is slowly, quietly working to expand prior authorization to these key forms of gastrointestinal care.

While UHC publicly pledged to slash prior authorization, we must judge them by their actions, not their words. Since UHC made that promise this spring — a move welcomed …

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