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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Doctors are concerned about pay scales under health care law

Posted by on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:07 AM
  • 39 Replies


— Many doctors are disturbed that they’ll be paid less – often a lot less – to care for the millions of patients who are projected to buy coverage through the health law’s new insurance marketplaces.

Some have complained to medical associations – including those in Texas, California, Georgia, Connecticut and New York – saying the discounted rates could lead to a two-tiered system in which fewer doctors participate, perhaps making it harder for consumers to get the care they need.

“As it is, there is a shortage of primary care physicians in the country, and they don’t have enough time to see all the patients who are calling them,” said Peter Cunningham, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington.

If providers are paid less, he said, “Are (enrollees) going to have difficulty getting physicians to accept them as patients?”

Insurance officials acknowledge that they have reduced rates in some plans, saying they are under enormous pressure to keep premiums affordable. They say physicians will make up for the lower pay by seeing more patients, since the plans tend to have smaller networks of doctors.

But many primary care doctors say they barely have time to take care of the patients they have now.

The conflict sheds light on the often murky world of insurance contracts, in which physicians don’t always know which plans they’re listed in or how much they’re being paid to treat patients in a particular plan. As a result, some doctors are just learning about the lower pay rates in some plans sold in the online markets, or exchanges

“If you’re a physician and you’ve negotiated a rate from insurance, shouldn’t it be the same on or off the exchange?” said Matthew Katz, the executive vice president of the Connecticut State Medical Society. “You’re providing the same service.”

A senior executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said some of its 37 member organizations – each of which operates independently and offers a variety of plans – were offering lower rates to physicians in smaller exchange plan networks.

But, she said, plans know that a good network of providers is essential or customers will go elsewhere, so they are enlisting sufficient numbers of doctors.

“We’re not motivated to gouge the doctor,” said Kim Holland, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association executive director for state affairs. “We depend on good relationships with quality physicians. . . . I can’t imagine any product we offer is going to have a physician rate that would discourage them from seeing a patient.”

But some physicians see things differently. Contracts between insurers and doctors vary, and some allow insurers to adjust rates unilaterally or to assign doctors to multiple plans.

“I’ve participated with Oxford since 1985,” Dr. Paul Orloff, a physician who’s the president of the New York County Medical Society, said of Oxford Health Plans. “They don’t send me a contract every year to sign. They don’t send me the rates. You don’t know the rates. It’s the only game in town, so you sign. They have a right to unilaterally change the rates at any time during the contract.”

The benchmark for physician fees is the rate the federal government sets for services provided to older Americans through Medicare. In many markets, commercial plans may pay slightly above the Medicare rates, while doctors say that many of the new exchange plans are offering rates below that.

Physicians are uncomfortable discussing their rates because of antitrust laws, and insurers say the information is proprietary. But information cobbled together from interviews suggests that if Medicare pays $90 for an office visit of a complex nature, and a commercial plan pays $100 or more, some exchange plans are offering $60 to $70. Doctors say the insurers have not always clearly spelled out the proposed rate reductions.

Some experts minimized the impact of lower pay rates on enrollees.

People “may experience wait times to get in, but that is not unique to people in exchange plans,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University,

Rosenbaum said she was not overly concerned about physicians’ compensation. “I don’t mean to suggest that physicians don’t deserve to do well,” she said. “But physicians are very well-compensated people, no matter what.”

Many doctors say they have not decided if they will participate in the new plans; in some cases, even when insurers are including them in their provider lists.

A survey by the Medical Society of the State of New York found that 40 percent of more than 400 physicians who had responded so far said they’d chosen not to participate in a health insurer’s exchange plan, and one-third said they did not know whether they were participating or not.

Patricia McLaughlin, an ophthalmologist in New York City, said patients had called her office, saying, ‘Oh good, I see you’re in the network.’ I’m not sure I am or am not at this point.”

Some insurers have contractual arrangements with physicians that allow them to include doctors in new plans automatically, unless the physicians request to opt out in writing, according to Mike Scribner, the CEO of Strategic Healthcare Partners, a health care consulting firm based in Savannah, Ga., that represents about 700 physicians and 30 managed care hospitals in the state.

Dr. Richard E. Thorp, an internist who’s the president of the California Medical Association and heads a physician-owned multi-specialty primary care group in Paradise, Calif., said that one plan sold on his state’s exchange “was going to pay us significantly less for doing that business. And we are already very busy.”

His practice delayed signing a contract, he said. But about three weeks ago, the group was informed that the insurer was short on physicians and was therefore including doctors from other plans at their old rates. So his practice was included at the higher rate.

Advocates say consumers should be wary of information in plan directories and confirm participation with their doctors.

source


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/20/209165/doctors-are-concerned-about-pay.html#storylink=cpy
source
by on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:07 AM
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Replies (1-10):
VooDooB
by Platinum Member on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:11 AM
4 moms liked this

This is just the beginning. We lose the insurance we were happy with, we lose our doctors, next we'll be on 6+ month long waiting lists for simple things like MRI's.
Less people will go to medical school every year because it won't be worth the cost, and we will have a shortage of pcp's and especially specalists. The future is scary.

candlegal
by Judy on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM
3 moms liked this

I guess they should have read the law before the voted on it.   The Dems own this bill, the republicans did not vote for it.

Quoting VooDooB:

This is just the beginning. We lose the insurance we were happy with, we lose our doctors, next we'll be on 6+ month long waiting lists for simple things like MRI's.
Less people will go to medical school every year because it won't be worth the cost, and we will have a shortage of pcp's and especially specalists. The future is scary.


masonmomma
by on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:18 AM
2 moms liked this
What the hell do people think will happen? But of course these doctors will be dubbed as just being "greedy".
VooDooB
by Platinum Member on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:19 AM
1 mom liked this

 They're realizing it now. Have you seen the new BO approval polls released yesterday? Sure there are a few stubborn ones still holding on; but they'll have their share of humble pie soon enough when a loved one has a heart attack and is left dying on a gurney in a digny hospital hallway because there won't be enough doctors to take care of everyone.

 

Quoting candlegal:

I guess they should have read the law before the voted on it.   The Dems own this bill, the republicans did not vote for it.

Quoting VooDooB:

This is just the beginning. We lose the insurance we were happy with, we lose our doctors, next we'll be on 6+ month long waiting lists for simple things like MRI's.
Less people will go to medical school every year because it won't be worth the cost, and we will have a shortage of pcp's and especially specalists. The future is scary.


 

 

PurdueMom
by Sherri on Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:30 AM
5 moms liked this

I know how some of you like to blame everything on Obama, but he doesn't own this. This is the faults of the insurance companies and the medical profession, set in motion many years ago.

candlegal
by Judy on Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:16 AM

He is not doing well at all, approval ratings are the lowest they have ever been.

Quoting VooDooB:

 They're realizing it now. Have you seen the new BO approval polls released yesterday? Sure there are a few stubborn ones still holding on; but they'll have their share of humble pie soon enough when a loved one has a heart attack and is left dying on a gurney in a digny hospital hallway because there won't be enough doctors to take care of everyone.


Quoting candlegal:

I guess they should have read the law before the voted on it.   The Dems own this bill, the republicans did not vote for it.

Quoting VooDooB:

This is just the beginning. We lose the insurance we were happy with, we lose our doctors, next we'll be on 6+ month long waiting lists for simple things like MRI's.
Less people will go to medical school every year because it won't be worth the cost, and we will have a shortage of pcp's and especially specalists. The future is scary.





candlegal
by Judy on Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:17 AM

It won't take long.

Quoting masonmomma:

What the hell do people think will happen? But of course these doctors will be dubbed as just being "greedy".


Sisteract
by Whoopie on Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:38 AM


Quoting PurdueMom:

I know how some of you like to blame everything on Obama, but he doesn't own this. This is the faults of the insurance companies and the medical profession, set in motion many years ago.

Quoting PurdueMom:

I know how some of you like to blame everything on Obama, but he doesn't own this. This is the faults of the insurance companies and the medical profession, set in motion many years ago.

Yep- and our educational system.

Get ready for more foreign MDs- medical school is heavily subsidized in many countries.


stringtheory
by Gold Member on Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:43 AM
2 moms liked this
Huh? This seems to contradict the right's outrage at unaffordable insurance all of a sudden. Are the insurance companies not going to apply those raised rates (which aren't all that common according to this article) to the cost of expanded plans? I'm no fan of the ACA, but come on, keep it consistent, please.
UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:44 AM
3 moms liked this

What a load of shit. Private insurers have always offered different prices and reimbursement rates with doctors and hospitals.

There has always been a great deal of variability in the coverage doctors accept...why wouldn't it contiune?

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