Health insurers assert that prior authorization processes can lower the cost of care and improve the quality, by protecting patients against unnecessary or overly expensive care. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Many physicians say health insurers pushed prior authorization requirements back up to normal, pre-pandemic levels this winter, as COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations surged.

About 52% of the 1,000 physicians who participated in an American Medical Association survey reported that the health plans they work with have kept prior authorization requirements at the usual levels throughout the pandemic.