InvestigateTV - Season 2; Episode 20

A look at how critics argue insurance companies are getting between patients and care. Also: Why doctors say many in-flight medical kits need an upgrade.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 5:33 PM CDT
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(InvestigateTV) — This Week on InvestigateTV: Decisions about your medical care should be between you and your doctor. But many argue insurance companies are getting in the way, denying tests before they’re even performed. Lee Zurik investigates how prior-authorization is delaying diagnoses and critical care. WHERE TO WATCH ICYMI – Watch last week’s episode.

Permission to Practice: You may think the decisions about your medical care — whether it’s a test to find out what’s wrong or a procedure to treat the problem — are in the hands of you and your doctor. But many argue insurance companies are getting in the way with a practice called “prior-authorization,” a process where the insurer considers if they will pay for a test or procedure based on the company’s determination of if it’s covered or even necessary. Insurance companies claim this saves money by eliminating waste in the healthcare system, but others say it’s often unclear exactly how or why determinations are made, and that these policies create burdens for doctors, can delay or prevent badly-needed care for patients and can erode trust in the healthcare system overall. We analyze dozens of insurance policies to look at the differences in procedures for which companies do and don’t require prior approval - plus we talk to someone who lost his wife after prior approval delayed her cancer care and a man who worked on the inside of the system.

First Aid Flight Plan: You may have been on a flight where a flight attendant or pilot asks if there is a doctor on board to help assist a passenger – but doctors and nurses say the medical kits on many airlines are lacking in equipment – and quality. Part of the issue: While the FAA mandates some medical equipment that must be on board, not everything is as specific or complete as medical professionals would like. The FAA has not updated its list in nearly two decades, and critics say it’s past time for another update and uniformity in the kits. Rachel DePompa speaks with doctors who’ve experienced using these kits firsthand about the best – and worst – equipment situations they’ve had. Plus, she speaks with a company that manufactures kits that go above and beyond the requirements and are being used by some airlines currently.

Overmedicated: A woman was put in hospice care by her daughter – even though the woman wasn’t terminal. Then a doctor prescribed her morphine/fentanyl without having ever met the patient. While it’s legal to prescribe by getting information from nurses, records prove the doctor and nurses never spoke. This story looks at how people can be treated without any contact.

Watching Your Wallet – Managing Retirement Healthcare: Saving for healthcare in your retirement may not be top of mind, but experts say hundreds of thousands may be needed to offset costs. Consumer Investigator Rachel DePompa explains how you can prepare in this Watching Your Wallet.