What Is the Most Important Role of a Medical Assistant?

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As the medical community continues to evolve and healthcare providers work towards greater efficiency to better serve their patients, the success of their practices is increasingly dependent on qualified and proficient medical assistants. Their friendly and welcoming faces are generally the first ones that patients encounter during doctor visits, setting the overall tone. Though it is no easy task to select one role that stands above all others in light of the plethora of responsibilities of today’s medical assistant, the successful administration of insurance details has risen to the top during the past decade.

Health Insurance Administration

In the present day medical environment, health insurance matters are top of mind as young and old are looking for the best and most economical health insurance plans. For seniors concerned with rising costs, many are opting for medicare supplement plan quotes for added coverage. As a result, the role of competent medical assistants is worth their weight in gold when it comes to navigating the health insurance world and working with the extensive array of carriers.

The level of skill and expertise possessed by these professionals can make a huge difference in the smooth running of medical practice and the satisfaction of its valued patients. In fact, practices are becoming more focused on insurance knowledge as part of key medical assistant interview questions.

Once considered mere “paperwork,” administrative duties for medical assistants have taken on an expanded life of their own that include, among many other tasks, answering telephones, updating and filing patient medical records, arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services, scheduling appointments and of course, those duties with financial implications to both the healthcare practice and its all-important patients, which is ultra dependent on understanding and accurate executing of insurance matters.

With the number of insurance carriers, differing plans, rules, and regulations, varying and allowable medical claims, and so much more, doctors are becoming increasingly dependent on individuals within their practice that are capable of successfully managing the challenges of insurance functions. According to a 2005 study in Annals of Family Medicine, “paperwork consumed a third of physicians’ time and over the next decade, paperwork has gone from being a large chunk to a majority of a doctor’s time.” If not for the expertise of these assistants, this administrative duty would fall upon the doctor, robbing him or her of precious time with patients.

Above-Average Organizational Skills

Practices require individuals that possess above-average organizational skills and a familiarity with all aspects of medical office functioning, but a keen sense to proficiently carry out and keep track of all aspects related to insurance such as verifying insurance, providing insurance authorizations, coding and filling out the differing claim forms.

Health Insurance Master

Although cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical duties, today’s medical assistants must become insurance masters. The average doctor, as reported in Insurance Business Magazine, “has to participate in at least a dozen managed care plans to stay competitive, not counting Medicare or any of the 50 independently-administered state Medicaid programs.” A daunting task for doctors which is greatly alleviated with the right medical assistants on their staff.

Familiarity with Insurance Procedures

In many instances, it is the knowledgeable medical assistant who knows even more than the patients themselves about their respective insurance benefits and is often a patient’s best resource for specifics such as covered procedures, insurance company prerequisites, and necessary forms, serving as the lynchpin for a smooth-running practice and happy patients.

Most doctors are called to their profession because of a heartfelt desire to heal and help the sick. Yet, with growing complexity in current health insurance plans and the amount of paperwork that is demanded for seamless and timely reimbursements, doctors would be forced to spend less time living their passion if not for their trusted assistants.

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