NewsCovering Colorado


Doctors financially strained following cyber attack on insurance company

Pueblo Sports and Family Medicine Medium.jpeg
Posted at 7:22 PM, Apr 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-11 21:22:41-04

PUEBLO, Colorado — A doctor from Pueblo is warning the public about the financial fallout from a cyber attack against a major health insurance provider. The attack disrupted the ability to submit claims and receive payments.

The American Medical Association now warns many doctors' offices may close due to the financial strain.

Doctor Rocky Khosla of Pueblo Sports and Family Medicine told News 5 that he wanted to share his story publicly because he knows many other doctors facing similar financial difficulties and he worries not enough people know about the problem.

"It's been very stressful, I would say this is the most stress I've dealt with ever," Khosla said.

Cybercriminals attacked a company named Change HealthCare in late February. The company is a unit of United Health Group and acts as a clearing house for medical billing services.

Doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies nationwide are unable to submit bills or receive payments.

"We haven't gotten substantially paid for about two and half months," Khosla said.

His practice had enough money in savings to cover its expenses for about two months. That money is all gone.

"I've had to take out and maximize my home equity loan, I've had to take some loans against my retirement, just to make payroll."

Khosla is one of many physicians facing this problem. The American Medical Association released a survey of 1,400 of its members on Wednesday. The survey revealed that 80 percent of doctors lost revenue to unpaid claims tied to the cyber attack.

Like Dr. Khosla, 55 percent of the doctors surveyed said they used personal funds to cover practice expenses. Another 44 percent said they were unable to purchase supplies, and 31 percent were unable to make payroll.

“The disruption caused by this cyber-attack is causing tremendous financial strain,” AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH said in a news release.

“These survey data show, in stark terms, that practices will close because of this incident, and patients will lose access to their physicians. The one-two punch of compounding Medicare cuts and inability to process claims as a result of this attack is devastating to physician practices that are already struggling to keep their doors open.”

A spokesman from United Health Group told News 5 that they have committed $4.7 billion to a temporary relief fund to help doctors.

He encourages providers to check their eligibility through an online portal.

Dr. Khosla said he has done that, but the relief money is not enough cover his loses.

"We've gotten 1/12th of that as relief yet," he said.

The AMA sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in March warning that this situation has put many small practices in financial jeopardy, particularly those serving rural communities and underserved areas.


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