July 21, 2008

Saving Money by Increasing The Doctor Bill

Interesting article in the NYTimes today about a very large insurance experiment designed to cut costs by paying doctors more. The plan centers around cutting expensive visits to specialists by better paying family physicians, internists and pediatricians to devote more time and attention to their patients. This should prevent later costly procedures and emergency visits.

Currently there are just over 250,000 practicing family physicians, general, practitioners, and internists in this country, and nearly 472,000 specialists. The salary of those primary care physicians is far less than the specialists who are compensated at a far higher rate for each patient visit. The plan comes on the heels of a report in North Carolina that says a program like this saved $162 million in 2005.

I think this is an innovative idea and fair to those physicians that don't necessarily perform surgeries or procedures, but spend hours pondering over multiple blood tests, x-rays, and other common tests. The job of primary care is usually much more complicated than that of many specialists. Specialists usually have the advantage of knowing what is wrong with their patient and what they're going to do about it before they even see them, family doctors have to study histories over and over to understand the patterns that may arrive or an unusual result by a patient that hasn't presented with any symptoms for 20 years.

Trying to Save by Increasing Doctors’ Fees - NYTimes.com

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