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Medical Prior Authorization: Medical Excellence for Doctors

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Embark on the journey of Medical Prior Authorization opportunities with our specialized guide designed for doctors. Discover the game-changing aspects of Medical Prior Authorization in Healthcare at Portiva, giving you more time to concentrate on the most crucial element – the health of your patients. Seize the opportunities that Medical Prior Authorization in Healthcare offers to enhance your path towards unmatched medical excellence.

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Table of Contents

prior authorization doctor talking to a presenter in a seminarMedical prior authorization pops up a lot if you’re dealing with healthcare. Most of us neglect it and think it’s just a formality, but it can affect your access to medicines. This blog will tell you what the prior authorization process is about, why it matters, and how it affects you and your healthcare provider.

Let’s take an example.

Imagine you’re building a treehouse in your backyard. Before you start hammering nails, you ask your parents for permission because they might not allow you to use this space.

 Medical prior authorization is similar. It’s when your doctor will ask your insurance company for permission before giving you some medications for treatment. The insurance company will be your parent, deciding if you need the treatment before they decide to pay the costs.

What exactly is Medical Prior Authorization?

Medical Prior Authorization is when a health insurance company reviews and gives you the green light on some medical services. Here’s how it works:

The doctor thinks you need something: Say you need an MRI scan for a knee injury.

Doctor checks insurance: Your doctor sees if the scan needs prior authorization based on your plan and the injury.

Doctor submits request: If needed, your doctor sends details about the scan and your condition to the insurance company.

The insurance company decides: The insurance company reviews the request and decides whether to approve or deny the scan.

Consider it a double-check to ensure you’re getting the best care and your insurance isn’t paying for unnecessary things.

This process is in place for a bunch of reasons:

  • Manage Healthcare Costs

The health insurance company can use it to control their healthcare expenses. They do this by confirming that the treatment is very important for you and within your budget.

  • Getting the Right Care

Doctors must explain why you need something, ensuring it’s the best option for your health, like choosing the right tool for the job, not using a hammer to tighten a screw.

  • No Surprises

Both you and your insurance agree on what’s covered before anything starts. No one finds out later that “Oops, it’s not covered!” It’s like agreeing on a budget for building that treehouse before hammering any nails.

The Process of Medical Prior Authorization

Here is a detailed process of medical prior authorizations:

Initiating the Prior Authorization Request

What it Means:

This is the first step of your electronic prior authorization requests. This is where your doctor will talk with the insurance company for a specific medical service or treatment.

Key Information Required

If you want to increase your chances of getting prior authorization, you need complete approval information. It would help if you shared this info with the insurance company to justify your need for medical treatment. Ensure all the information is correct; otherwise, your request might get denied.

Key Information:

  • Diagnosis: Details about your medical condition or symptoms.
  • Treatment Plan: Information about the proposed treatment or service.
  • Supporting Documents: Any medical records, test results, or other documents supporting the service’s need.

Navigating the Prior Authorization Process

health plans doctor look at patient medical documentsThe prior authorization process is a critical aspect of healthcare that involves certain medical services and treatments requiring prior authorization from insurance companies. To initiate this approval, healthcare providers submit a prior authorization request to the insurance company.

This request typically includes comprehensive information, often detailed in a prior authorization form. The completion and accuracy of this form play a crucial role in determining whether the requested service will be approved or denied.

Patients, alongside their healthcare providers, navigate through this intricate process, ensuring that all necessary documentation and justifications are in place to secure the green light for their required medical treatments.

The Role of Healthcare Providers in the Process

Your doctors and specialists play a very important role in prior authorization. They will advocate for you and mention that a patient’s medical treatment is necessary. This will help strengthen the case before the insurance company, reducing the chances of denial.

How it Works:

  • Your healthcare provider determines the need for a specific service and initiates the prior authorization process.
  • They compile and submit all necessary information, including medical records and treatment health plans, to your insurance company.
  • They may communicate directly with the insurance company to provide additional details or answer any questions.

Decoding the Necessity of Prior Authorizations

Within the realm of healthcare, certain medical services and treatments often require prior authorization, signifying the need for individuals to obtain approval from their insurance providers before proceeding.

The intricacies of the prior authorization process involve healthcare providers submitting a prior authorization request to the insurance company. This request, often accompanied by a detailed prior authorization form, acts as the linchpin in the decision-making process.

Completing this form with accurate and comprehensive information significantly influences whether the requested service will be granted prior authorization or face denial.

As patients navigate the complexities of their healthcare journey, understanding the nuances of prior authorizations becomes paramount, ensuring a smoother path toward receiving essential medical treatments.

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Why Do Health Insurers Require Prior Authorization?

Health insurers require a prior authorization request for several reasons, each aimed at ensuring responsible and effective healthcare management. Here are the primary reasons why health insurers implement prior authorization:

Gauging a Medical Necessity 

insurance company doctor and insurerThe term “medical necessity” is a crucial aspect of healthcare that directly impacts insurers’ approval of services or medications—being medically necessary means that the prescribed service or Drug is genuinely needed for your specific medical situation.

Insurers evaluate medical necessity using specific criteria, often grounded in current, evidence-based research. They want to ensure that the recommended treatment aligns with the latest medical knowledge and is the most suitable option for your condition. This approach helps maintain a standard of care that is both effective and up-to-date.

One key aspect insurers consider is the avoidance of duplication. For instance, if you receive care from multiple specialists, certain services, like diagnostic tests, might be repeated unknowingly. In such cases, insurers may withhold pre-authorization until they confirm that the service is necessary and not duplicating a recent procedure.

For example, if you’ve undergone a chest CT scan for lung cancer with one specialist, and another specialist recommends a similar scan shortly afterward, your insurer would likely require confirmation that the second specialist is aware of the earlier scan and still deems another scan necessary.

Associated Costs 

Cost is a significant factor in the decision-making process for insurers when authorizing medical services or treatments. The medical procedure or Drug should be the most economical treatment option for your condition. For instance, let’s consider two drugs, Drug C and Drug E, both effective for your condition. If Drug C is more budget-friendly than Drug E, your health plans may question why the pricier option is chosen.

If your healthcare provider suggests the more expensive Drug E, they need to justify why the less expensive Drug C wouldn’t work just as well. The provider must demonstrate that Drug E is a better fit for your specific needs, even though it has a higher price tag. If there’s no clear medical reason why the costlier Drug E should be preferred over the more affordable Drug C, your health plan might opt not to authorize it. Some insurance companies use a strategy called step therapy, which only covers the costlier option, like Drug E if you’ve first tried the less expensive Drug C and found it ineffective.

This idea of weighing the effectiveness of treatments against their costs is wider than medications. It extends to various medical procedures. For example, insurers require your healthcare provider to prove that a less expensive diagnostic test, such as an X-ray, wouldn’t be sufficient before approving a pricier option like an MRI. This careful consideration of costs ensures that your health plan balances between delivering effective care and managing healthcare expenses responsibly.

Prevent Unnecessary Procedures 

requested treatment doctor shaking hands with senior manYour insurance provider wants to ensure that the ongoing or recurring services you receive are genuinely helping you. For instance, if you’ve been undergoing physical therapy (PT) for three months and your provider suggests another three months, your health insurance plan will assess if the PT is making a positive impact.

The extra PT might be approved if you’re making slow, measurable progress. Your insurer understands that continuous sessions are beneficial. However, if there’s no visible progress or the PT makes you feel worse, your health plans may hold off on authorizing more sessions. In such cases, they might discuss with your healthcare provider why extending the PT is in your best interest.

Your insurance provider wants to ensure that the services you receive continue and contribute positively to your well-being. This way, they support treatments that genuinely help you, addressing any concerns to ensure you’re on the right healthcare path.

Medications and Services Requiring Prior Authorization

A prior authorization request ensures that certain medications and services meet specific criteria before your insurance approves them. While it’s not typically needed for emergencies, here’s a breakdown of when it may be required according to the American Medical Association:


Why Prior Authorization is Needed: Insurers want to confirm the necessity and cost-efficiency of prescribed medications for non-emergency situations.

Considerations: Drugs with serious risks, high potential for misuse or addiction, those used for cosmetic reasons, or expensive medications may require obtaining prior authorization.

Temporary Supply: In some cases, insurers may provide a short-term supply (e.g., one or three months) while they evaluate the necessity of a medication.


Diagnostic imaging (MRIs, CTs, PET scans)

Durable medical equipment (wheelchairs)

Rehabilitation services (physical or occupational therapy)

Home health services (nurses)

Non-emergency surgery (elective surgery)

Does Medicare Require Prior Authorization

patient's health plan a senior woman man and doctorOriginal Medicare (Part A and Part B): Generally, Original Medicare does not require prior authorization.

Medicare Advantage Plans: These plans often require prior authorization, but new rules implemented in 2023 aim to streamline the process and reduce delays in receiving timely medical care.

Understanding when prior authorization is needed helps you navigate your healthcare effectively, ensuring that the prescribed medications and recommended services align with medical necessity and cost-efficiency standards set by your insurance plan.


In conclusion, the intricacies of the prior authorization process underscore its pivotal role in healthcare. The significance of obtaining prior authorizations for specific medical services and treatments cannot be overstated. Negotiating the difficulties of prior authorizations is a joint effort involving patients, healthcare providers, and health insurance entities. The prior authorization process acts as a crucial checkpoint, ensuring that prescribed treatments align with medical necessity and cost-efficiency standards set by health insurance plans.

Health insurance providers implement the prior authorization process for various reasons, such as managing healthcare costs, safeguarding against unnecessary procedures, and gauging the medical necessity of prescribed services or medications. This careful evaluation helps balance effective healthcare management and responsible cost control.

As patients and healthcare providers work in tandem to complete prior authorization requests, the collaboration serves as a cornerstone in securing approval for essential medical treatments. The prior authorization forms, meticulously completed with comprehensive and accurate information, play a decisive role in influencing the outcome—whether a requested service will be granted prior authorization or face denial.

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