DICTIONARY: Health Insurance and Managed Care

BOOK REVIEW

“The Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care lifts the fog of confusion surrounding the most contentious topic in the health care industrial complex today. My suggestion therefore is to ‘read it, refer to it, recommend it, and reap’.”


Michael J. Stahl, PhD, Physician Executive MBA Program [William B. Stokely Distinguished Professor of Business]

The University of Tennessee, College of Business Administration

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Transformational Health 2.0 Business Skills for Doctors

THE BUSINESS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE

Textbook Review

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Are Today’s Doctors Desperate?

Emotions Rise with Healthcare Reform

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

NOTE:  I penned this essay more than a decade ago.dem2

Managed care is a prospective payment method where medical care is delivered regardless of the quantity or frequency of service, for a fixed payment, in the aggregate. It is not traditional fee-for-service medicine or the individual personal care of the past, but is essentially utilitarian in nature and collective in intent. Will new-age healthcare reform be even more draconian?

Unhappy Physicians

There are many reasons why doctors are professionally and financially unhappy, some might even say desperate, because of managed care; not to mention the specter of healthcare reform from the Obama administration. For example:

  • A staggering medical student loan debt burden of $100,000-250,000 is not unusual for new practitioners. The federal Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) program reported that for the Year 2000, it squeezed significant repayment settlements from its Top 5 list of deadbeat doctor debtors. This included a $303,000 settlement from a New York dentist, $186,000 from a Florida osteopath, $158,000 from a New Jersey podiatrist, $128,000 from a Virginia podiatrist, and $120,000 from a Virginia dentist. The agency also excluded 303 practitioners from Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare programs and had their cases referred for nonpayment of debt.
  • Because of the flagging economy, medical school applications nationwide have risen. “Previously, there were a lot of different opportunities out there for young bright people”; according to Rachel Pentin-Maki; RN, MHA”; not so today. In fact, Physicians Practice Digest recently stated, “Medicine is fast becoming a job in which you work like a slave, eke out a middle class existence, and have patients, malpractice insurers, and payers questioning your motives.” Remarkably, the Cornell University School of Continuing Education has designed a program to give prospective medical school students a real-world peek, both good and bad.

The Ripple Effects of Managed Care and Reform

“Many people who are currently making a great effort and investment to become doctors may be heading for a role and a way of life that are fundamentally different from what they expect and desire,” according to Stephen Scheidt, MD, director of the $1,000 Cornell fee program; why?

  • Fewer fee-for-service patients and more discounted patients.
  • More paperwork and scrutiny of decisions with lost independence and morale.
  • Reputation equivalency (i.e., all doctors in the plan must be good), or commoditization (i.e., a doctor is a doctor is a doctor).
  • The provider is at risk for (a) utilization and acuity, (b) actuarial accuracy, (c) cost of delivering medical care, and (d) adverse patient selection.
  • Practice costs are increasing beyond the core rate of inflation.
  • Medicare reimbursements are continually cut.

Mad Obama

Early Opinions

Richard Corlin MD, opined back in 2002 that “these are circumstances that cannot continue because we are going to see medical groups disappearing.” Furthermore, he stated, “This is an emergency that lawmakers have to address.” Such cuts also stand to hurt physicians with private payers since commercial insurers often tie their reimbursement schedules to Medicare’s resources. “That’s the ripple effect here,” says Anders Gilberg, the Washington lobbyist for the Medical Group Management Associations (MGMA).

Assessment

And so, some desperate doctors are pursing these sources of relief, among many others:

  • A growing number of doctors are abandoning traditional medicine to start “boutique” practices that are restricted to patients who pay an annual retainer of $1,500 and up for preferred services and special attention. Franchises for the model are also available.
  • Regardless of location, the profession of medicine is no longer ego-enhancing or satisfying; some MDs retire early or leave the profession all together. Few recommend it, as a career anymore.

Assessment

To compound the situation, it is well known that doctors are notoriously poor investors and do not attend to their own personal financial well being, as they expertly minister to their patients’ physical illnesses.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Tell us what you think? Are you a desperate doctor? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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References:

  1. www.managedcaremagazine.com/archives/9809/9809/.qna_dickey.shtml
  2. www.hrsa.dhhs.gov/news-pa/heal.htm
  3. www.bhpr.hrsa.gov/dsa/sfag/health-professions/bk1prt4.htm
  4. Pamela L. Moore, “Can We All Just Get Along: Bridging the Generation Gap, Physicians Practice Digest (May/June 2001).

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DICTIONARY: Health Insurance and Managed Care

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NASEM Recommends a Primary Care Physician to Every American

By HEALTH CAPITAL CONSULTANTS, LLC


On May 4, 2021, the National Academies for Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a major report expressing a dire need to improve primary care in the U.S. 

Since January 2020, an extensive committee within NASEM has worked to develop an implementation plan that will reopen the discussion of improving primary care as a means to improving overall health and achieving health equity.

(Read more…)

Primary Care|Global Events|U.S.A|Europe|Middle East|Asia ...

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.

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In Defense of Employed Physicians

The History of Managed Care

Episode 91: Dr. Michel Accad - How Did Medicine Go Wrong?

By Michel Accad, MD

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Accad practices internal medicine and cardiology in San Francisco.

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I wish to make one clarification and one prediction regarding employed physicians.

The clarification is this:  There is a common misconception that if healthcare operated under free market conditions, it would primarily be a cottage industry of solo practices and of small physician-owned hospitals.  Such operations would not develop the capabilities of large healthcare entities that we commonly associate with central planning.

See the source image

ASSESSMENT: In reality, however, the opposite would be the case.

LINK: http://alertandoriented.com/in-defense-of-the-employed-physician/

[Related article: One hundred years of managed care]

Your thoughts are appreciated.

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ME-P News Stories Wrap-Up for August 2015

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BREAKING-EVENTS AND AGGREGATED STORIES 

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Editor’s Pick: 

Daily Round-Up of Headlines for December 2014

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Editor’s Pick: 

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Conclusion

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Cost Conflicts-of-Interest in Medicine

Clinical Care versus Finance

By Render S. Davis MHA CHE

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Conflicts of interest are not a new phenomenon in medicine. In the fee-for-service system, physicians controlled access to medical facilities and technology, and they benefited financially from nearly every order or prescription they wrote. Consequently, there was an inherent temptation to over-treat patients. Even marginal diagnostic or therapeutic procedures were justified on the grounds of both clinical necessity and legal protection against threats of negligence. 

Costs Rarely Considered

While it could be construed that this represented a direct conflict of interest, it could also be argued that most patients were well served in this system because the emphasis was on thorough, comprehensive treatment – where cost was rarely a consideration.  It was a well known adage that physicians “could do well, by doing good.” 

Managed Care

In managed care, the potential conflicts between patients and physicians took on a completely different dimension.  By design, in health plans where medical care was financed through prepayment arrangements, the physician’s income was enhanced not by doing more for his or her patients, but by doing less.  Patients, confronted with the realization that their doctor would be rewarded for the use of fewer resources, could no longer rely with certainty on the motives underlying a physician’s treatment plans.  One inevitable outcome was the continuing decline in patients’ trust in their physicians.  This has been exacerbated to some degree by revelations of significant financial remuneration to physicians by pharmaceutical and medical products firms for their services as researchers or active participants on corporate-funded advisory panels, calling into question the physician’s objectivity in promoting the use of company products to their peers or patients.

Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of interest may also create concerns at a much higher level, as evidenced by the issues raised in 2008 litigation against Ingenix, a company that for more than a decade, provided information to the insurance industry on payments to out-of-network physicians for their “usual and customary rates (UCR).” As noted in court documents, Ingenix was a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Healthcare and the UCR information sold by the company to insurers may have been fundamentally biased in favor of the insurers, causing patients to pay larger out-of-pocket fees.

Assessment

As a result, New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo filed suit against Ingenix.  This action was followed by suits brought against major insurers by the American Medical Association and several state medical groups for systematic underpayment to members, based on the biased data.  To date there have been monetary settlements, but the issue continues to raise growing concerns regarding conflicts of interest among the key payers for health care.

Conclusion

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Useful Managed Care Provider, Staffing, Activity and Financial Trends

Part Two

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Dr. DEMIf you read this ME-P regularly or have read my earlier blogs, you know that I am writing a book on practice management for the private medical practitioner.

The Business of Medical Practice [Transformational Health 2.0 Skills for Doctors]; third edition: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Link: Front Matter BoMP – 3

A recent story in the Chicago Tribune on the difficult business life of private practitioners today reminds me that I need to keep my nose to the grindstone.

For example, according to the sanofi-aventis Pharmaceutical Company Managed Care Digest Series, for 2008-10, the following patterns and comparative trend information has been empirically determined and may provide a basic starting point for medical practitioners to share business management, facilities, personnel, and records information for enhanced success www.managedcaredigest.com

Mid-Level Provider and Staffing Trends

  • Mid-level provider use increased among multi-specialty groups, especially in those with more than half of their revenue from capitated contracts. Use also rose with the size of the practice and was highest with OB/GYN groups.
  • Medical support staff for all multi-specialty groups fell and was lowest in medical groups with less than 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) physicians. However, groups with a large amount of capitated revenue actually added support staff. Smaller groups limited support staff.
  • Compensation costs of support staff increased and the percentages of total operating costs associated with laboratories, professional liability insurance, IT services, and imaging also increased. Support staff costs increase with capitation levels and more than half of all operating costs are tied to support staff endeavors.

Managed Care Activity and Contracting Trends

  • More medical group practices are likely to own interests in preferred provider organizations (PPOs) than in HMOs and the percentages of groups with managed care revenue continues to rise. Multi-specialty and large groups also derive more revenue from MCOs than single specialty or smaller groups.
  • Managed care has little effect on physician payment methods that are still predominantly based on productivity. Physicians were paid differently for at-risk managed care contracts in only a small percentage of cases.
  • Most medical groups (75%) participating in managed care medicine have PPO contracts. Group practices contract with network HMOs more often than solo practices. Single-specialty groups more often have PPO contracts.
  • Capitated lives often raise capitation revenues in large group practices. Group practices are more highly capitated than smaller groups or solo practices. Almost 30% of highly capitated medical groups have more than 15 contracts and 22% have globally capitated contracts.
  • Higher capitation is linked with increased risk contracting. Larger groups have more risk contracting than smaller groups.

Physician Health

Financial Profile Trends

  • Medicare fee-for-service reimbursement is decreasing. Highly capitated groups incur high consulting fees.
  • The share of total gross charges for OB/GYN groups associated with managed care at-risk contracts is rising while non-managed care, or not-at-risk charges are declining.
  • Capitated contracts have little effect on the amount of on-site office non-surgical work. Off-site surgeries are most common for surgery groups, not medical groups.
  • Half of all charges are for on-site non-surgical procedures.
  • Highly capitated medical groups have higher operating costs and lower net profits.
  • Groups without capitation have higher laboratory expenses than those who do.
  • Physician costs are highest in orthopedic surgery group practices. Generally, median costs at most specialty levels are rising and profits shrinking.

Assessment

Obviously, the above information is only a gauge since regional differences, and certain medical sub-specialty practices and carve-outs, do exist.

Part One: Useful Managed Care Patterns and Procedural Utilization Trends

Conclusion

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Useful Managed Care Patterns and Procedural Utilization Trends

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Part One of Two

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Publisher-in-Chief]

If you read this ME-P regularly or have read my earlier blogs, you know that I am writing a book on practice management for the private medical practitioner.

The Business of Medical Practice [Transformational Health 2.0 Skills for Doctors]; third edition: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Link: Front Matter BoMP – 3

And, a recent story in the Chicago Tribune on the difficult business life of private practitioners today reminds me that I need to keep my nose to the grindstone.

For example, knowing your medical contract negotiation objectives, gathering information on the choices of contracts and discount payment systems, and understanding the pitfalls to watch for when evaluating a contract are the keys to any successful negotiation process.

Reimbursement Contract Negotiations

According to the sanofi-aventis Pharmaceutical Company Managed Care Digest Series, for 2008-10, the following pattern and trend comparative information has been empirically determined and may provide a basic starting point for practitioners to share business management, facilities, personnel, and other records for enhanced contract negotiation success.

www.managedcaredigest.com

hos

Procedural Utilization Trends

  • Among all physicians in a single-specialty group practice, invasive cardiologists averaged the most encounters with total hospital inpatient admissions down from the prior year. However, encounters rose for cardiologists in multispeciality group practices.
  • Echocardiography was the most commonly performed procedure on HMO seniors, followed by coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Group practices performed cardiovascular stress tests for circulatory problems most often.
  • CT studies of the brain and chest were the most common studies for HMO seniors, while MRI head studies were the most common diagnostic test on commercial HMO members.
  • Colonoscopy was the most common digestive system procedure on senior HMO members, while barium enemas were more common on commercial members.
  • Hospital admission volume decreased for allergists, family practitioners, internists, OB/GYNs, pediatricians, and general surgeons.
  • Internists ordered more in-hospital laboratory procedures than any other physicians in single-specialty groups.
  • Non-hospital MD/DOs used in-hospital radiology services most frequently, continuing a three-year upward trend.
  • Pediatricians averaged the most ambulatory encounters, down from the prior year.
  • Non-hospitalist internists ordered a higher number of in-hospital laboratory procedures than any other single medical specialty group, but allergists and immunologists increased their laboratory usage.
  • The number of ambulatory encounters increased for general surgeons, while group surgeons had the most cases. Capitated surgeons, of all types, had a lower mean number of surgical cases than surgeons in groups without capitation. Surgeons in internal medical groups also had more cases than those in multi-specialty groups.
  • The average number of total office visits per commercial and senior HMO visits fell, along with the number of institutional visits for both commercial and senior HMO members.
  • The average length of hospital stay for all commercial HMO members increased to 3.6 days but decreased to 6 days for all HMO members.
  • The total number of births increased for commercial HMO members served by medical group practices, and decreased for solo practitioners.
  • More than one-third of all medical groups use treatment protocols, rising from the year before. Multi-specialty groups were more likely to use them than single-specialty groups, who often develop their own protocols. The use of industry benchmarks to judge the quality of healthcare delivery also increased.
  • Outcome studies are most common at larger medical groups, and multi-specialty groups pursue quality assurance activities more often than single-specialty groups.
  • Provider interaction during office visits is increasingly coming under scrutiny. Patients approve of cardiologists more frequently than allergists and ophthalmologists.

Assessment

Obviously, the above information is only a gauge since regional differences, and certain medical sub-specialty practices and carve-outs, do exist.

Part Two: Useful Managed Care Provider, Staffing, Activity and Financial Trends

Conclusion

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On Dr. Enthoven’s “Managed Competition” in Healthcare

A Historical Essay Review for all Stakeholders

By Hope Rachel Hetico RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Managing Editor]

www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Princeton PhD economist Alain Enthoven’s 1993 paper in Health Affairs on managed competition is almost two decades old (health care markets have changed greatly since then), but not in his prescription for change.

Still Relevant Today

Of course, some ideas are outdated, but many expressed ideas are still very relevant today and embodied in several provisions espoused by advocates for additional contemporary healthcare reform.

In fact, we have mentioned the “Father of Managed Care” in all three versions of our textbook; including the newest third edition for 2011: The Business of Medical Practice [Transformational Health 2.0 Skills for Doctors]  www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Assessment  

We therefore recommend that every healthcare stakeholder read the paper entirely; and then decide for your-self.  

Link: Managed Competition

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Dr. Enthoven’s thoughts? Are they relevant today; why or why not? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Drowning Out the Noise [A Career and Life Allegory]

A Man Lived by the Side of the Road
By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

The “Quiet” 

An old man lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes, so he had no newspaper.

But, he sold really – really good hot dogs. He put up a sign on the highway telling how good they were. He stood by the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, mister.” And people bought. He increased his meat and bun orders and he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

The “Noise”

Soon, his son came home from college to help him. But, then something happened. His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? There’s a big depression on. The international situation is terrible and the domestic situation is even worse.”

Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son has been to college. He listens to the radio and reads the papers, so he ought to know.” So, the father cut down his bun order, took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell hot dogs. His hot dog sales fell almost overnight. “You were right, son,” the father said to the boy. “We are certainly in the middle of a great depression.”

-Author Unknown

Assessment

As a physician, professor or entrepreneur, how do you feel about this story? Does the managed care situation, PP-ACA and new healthcare reform focus, depress you? Do you feel alienated from your patients, profession or self?

What about you, financial advisors? Do layoffs in the industry affect your earning capacity? Or, does the market situation just hurt your self esteem? Which is worse; a real or psychologically negative impact?  What about failed mortgage derivative products, collapsed banks, and related ethical scandals? Demoralizing!

And so, are you an optimist or pessimist about life and career? Is it really “different this time?”

Conclusion

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On American Health Care and Financial Services Competitiveness

A MEMORIAL DAY OPINION – EDITORIAL

[Innovation – Not Nationalization – Can Again Lead]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Managing Editor]

Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive-Director]

American Flag

On this 2010 Memorial Day weekend, please allow us to directly reflect for a moment on the decline of the healthcare, banking and financial services industry in America. And; then somewhat indirectly comment on the hopeful emergence of the web 2.0 phenomena of which we all are a part. The competitive applicability to these sectors should be appreciated by the insightful ME-P reader.

Collapse of Command and Control Monopolies and Oligarchies   

Old monopolies everywhere are crumbling because of tougher new competitors and the transparency wrought by electronic connectedness. For example, our old newspaper has to compete with the internet, your electric utility company battles low-cost local start-ups, telephone companies must begin installing fiber optic lines to fend off cable companies; and RIAs and fiduciary focused financial advisors [FAs] will supplant BDs and stock brokers in the financial services sector.

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The airline industry collapsed a few years ago, the banking industry has just collapsed, and the auto industry is recovering as we pen this post. [We have a particular affinity for the auto sector however, as the son of a UAW member and step-daughter of Michiganders]. Regardless, the rush to more intense competition cannot be stopped. As a doctor, FA or other business competitor; you either keep pace or get crushed by quasi-oligarchic organizations like the American Medical Association [AMA], American Podiatric Medical Association [FPMA], American Dental Association [ADA], American Osteopathic Medical Association AOMA], Financial Planning Association [FPA], Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards [CFP BoS], College for Financial Planning [CFP] or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors [NAPFA], etc. What have they, and Wall Street, done for you … lately? Scandal, taint, doubt, lost-credibility, a business-as-usual ennui, lethargy and ruin! Enter www.Sermo.com

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/calling-for-cfp%c2%ae-fiduciary-status-real-education-and-higher-duty/#comment-4136

Health Insurance Companies

In the last-generation of health insurance companies and related fraternal medical organizations, patients exercised great control over physician selection, had quicker access to specialists and encountered fewer restrictions on care. The reverse was true with financial services. But, because of advancing technology, aging demographics, intense R&D, global manufacturing, and escalating domestic HR costs – competitive market forces against traditional and structured staff model managed care companies – many industry analysts [like us] predicted growth would decline [Yes, greed was also involved as healthcare was presumed a recession-proof sector; and didn’t we all own behemoth big-pharma and HMO stocks in our 401-K, and 403-B plans]? But now, many former stock-brokers and FAs are going rogue; er – independent!

“Although inefficiencies in any business often open up in the short term, and can be greatly exploited by creative and visionary entrepreneurs – as in most business structures – market forces will prevail in the long run”.

Leo F. Mullin, MBA

[Former CEO – Delta Airlines]Shadows

Next-Gen with “Fly”

Fortunately, a new generation of enlightened physician and FA entrepreneurs is coming “out-of-the-shadows” as new-wave web 2.0 corporations and RIAs are becoming more flexible, competitive and market responsive. Simultaneously, monolithic and collectivist political ideas keep trying to regulate the medical and financial services workplace with rules, regulations and contracts to control entire populations. Yet, in the new healthcare economy, this new generation of doctors and FAs with “fly,” is headed toward more competition; not less – with more collaboration with patients and clients – regaining self autonomy.

Physician and FA Advocates

Meanwhile, as medical professionals, FAs and patient advocates, we must all choose between staying flexible to ride out tough times – or – adopting a hard, brittle line that will crack under the pressure of competition. We know where we stand at the ME-P, do you?

Flexibility and Virtual Reality

In recent years, many large corporations and top-down business models were not market responsive and change was not inherent in their DNA. These traditional organizations represented a rigid or “used-to-be” mentality, not a flexible or “wanna-be” mindset; according to business columnist Alan Webber. Some financial advisory corporations, and today’s emerging health 2.0 initiatives, may possess the market nimbleness that cannot be recreated in a controlled or collectivist [nationalistic] environment. And so, going forward, it is not difficult to imagine the following new rules for the new financial and virtual medical ecosystem.

[A] Rule No. 1

Forget about “SEC suitability and FINRA rules”, large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment, larger hospitals and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices or financial product delivery systems. One doctor or niche focused FA with a great idea, good bedside manners or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of public servants, the AMA, SEC, ADA or FINRA “faux copy-cat examiners”, while still serving the public – and patients – and making money. It’s now a unit-of-one economy where “Me Inc.”, is the standard. Physicians and FAs must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients, peers, payers, customers and clients. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys; outcomes research analysis, evidence-based-medicine, physician economics credentialing and true integrated fiduciary-focused financial planning.

However, we should also realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual RIAs or medical practices, which come together to treat a patient, or help a client, and then disband when a successful outcome is achieved. Job security is earned with more successful outcomes; not necessarily a degree, automatic AUMs, certifications or onsite presence. In fact, some competition experts, like Shirley Svorny PhD, a professor of economics and chair of the Department of Economics at California State University, wonder if a medical degree is a barrier – rather than enabler – of affordable healthcare.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/medical-licensing-obstacle-to-affordable-quality-care

Others even presume the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, but are generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units. The same can be said for the financial services industry, although much farther down-line given its current slow rate of real education and quasi-professional acceptance.

[B] Rule No. 2

Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do collective-nistas and nationalized healthcare advocates react rationally; or irrationally? [THINK: Wall Street, medical unions]

[C] Rule No 3

Differentiate yourself among your healthcare and financial advisory peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. Conformity is an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors and FAs should create and innovate, not blindly follow organization or political “union” leaders [shop stewards, BDs, etc] into oblivion.

[D] Rule No 4

Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of the quick change with fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if you are of this ilk – and adhere to any of the above rules? Or, just become an employed [government, BD] doctor or FA shill. Just remember that the political party, or monopoly that can give you a job, can also take it away [THINK: LB, ML, Wachovia, national healthcare, etc].

CP 1

Memorial Day Considerations

Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, consider that life and career is a journey, and that in this country we have the choice to ponder or pursue any, and all of the above options, and more. We have the ability to think, cogitate and ruminate, as we have done here today. So – please – thank those who have helped turn this idealistic philosophy, into pragmatic daily reality.

For us personally, we thank Bonze Star Medal Winner Captain Cecelia T. Perez, RN. Now – ponder and consider – who do you thank? If no one has impacted you up-close on this Memorial Day weekend and national holiday, please visit our military channel to reflect, comment and opine.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/category/military-medicine

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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How to Evaluate a Managed Care Contract Proposal?

ASK AN ADVISOR

To Join -or- Not to Join is the Question

By Staff Reporters

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

A new-wave West-Coast managed care organization (MCO) wanted a multi-specialty medical group to contract with them to provide medical services to all subscribers. Compensation would be in the form of a fixed-rate capitated payment system, a.k.a. per member / per month (PM/PM).

Ask an Advisor

The medical group practice administrator reviewed their request for proposal (RFP) very carefully, but is still not sure what to do. So, allow us to “crowd-source” as we ask ME-P readers, advisors and management consultants for a solution.

Key Issues

Facts to know for an informed PM/PM capitated reimbursement decision:

  • annual frequency or service-rate per 1,000 patients
  • unit cost of medical services per unit-patient
  • co-payment dollar amount per patient
  • co-payment frequency rate per 1,000 patients
  • variable cost per patient
  • under-capacity medical group office utilization rates, and
  • fixed overhead office-cost coverage [+/-].

Assessment

Visit: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

More case models: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2010/03/12/healthcare-case-models-cd-rom/

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. What is your solution; accept or reject the contract proposal? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe. It is fast, free and secure.

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Events-Planner: March 2010

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Events-Planner: MARCH 2010

By Staff Writers

“Keeping track of important health economics and financial industry meetings, conferences and summits”

Welcome to this issue of the Medical Executive-Post and our Events-Planner. It contains the latest information on conferences, news, and relevant resources in healthcare finance, economics, research and development, business management, pharmaceutical pricing, and physician/entity reimbursement!  Watch for a new Events-Planner each month.

First, a little about us! The Medical Executive-Post is still a relative newcomer.  But today, we have almost 17,500 visitors and readers each month from all over the country, in addition to our growing subscriber base. We have been a successful collaborative effort, thanks to your contributions.  As a result, we are adding new resources daily.  And, we hope the website continues to provide the best place to go for journals, books, conferences, educational resources, tools, and other things you need to establish the value your healthcare consulting and financial advisory intervention. And so, enjoy the Medical Executive-Post and our monthly Events-Planner with our compliments. 

A Look Ahead this Month

March 1: Print Edition Healthcare Journalism: If you would like to “step-up-your-game” and be considered as a peer-reviewed contributor to the third print edition of: The Business of Medical Practice [Health 2.0 Profit Maximizing Techniques for Savvy Doctors]; contact Ann at: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com. There are several chapter topics still available. Now, the important dates:

  • March 1-4: HIMSS-10 Conference, Atlanta, GA
  • March 4-5: Medicare RAC Summit, Washington, DC 
  • March 6-9: BISA Annual Convention, Westin Diplomat, Hollywood, FLA
  • March 7-9: ABA Wealth Management and Trust Conference, Biltmore, AZ
  • March 11: Health Plan Innovations Conference, Orlando, FLA
  • March 13: AORN Congress, Denver, CO
  • March 14: Health Facility Planning, San Diego, CA
  • March 25: World Healthcare Congress on HI-TECH, Washington, DC
  • March 29: HIT and the Future of Managed Care Industry Forum, NY 

Please send in your meetings and dates for listing in the next issue of our ME-P Events-Planner: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com 

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Off Road Touring in Boston with Dr. Marcinko

How Doctors Get Paid

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Just before the Christmas Holidays, I flew up to Boston at the invitation of a pharmaceutical company to lead a managerial workshop entitled: “How Doctors Get Paid” [Treatment is only the beginning in the Changing Billing and Medical Reimbursement Climate].

Our goal was to inform drug representatives, and their regional managers, what value added information physician offices might expect from the pharmaceutical industry of the future.  

Topics of Discussion

The two hour interactive workshop included team projects, flip chart exercises, a mock role-playing session and the customary [hopefully energetic] ppt presentation. Other topics of discussion included:  

  • Health insurance payment evolution
  • Collapse of Medicare
  • Rise of managed care
  • Medical records documentation
  • ICD-9 and 10, HCPCS, DRGs and CPT® coding
  • ABNs, super-bills and HCFA 150 forms
  • Billing methodologies
  • Healthcare fraud, abuse and related policies
  • Capitation, HSAs, concierge medicine and RACs
  • Futuristic health 2.0 payment mechanisms, and more.

Assessment

Rest assured; these folks were a very knowledgeable and aggressive group; not like your father’s “detail men” of yore! They seek to … talk the talk, and walk the walk, of the Health 2.0 era.

Many thanks again to Helen, and Jon D, for the invite.

Channel Surfing

Have you visited our other topic channels? Established to facilitate idea exchange and link our community together, the value of these topics is dependent upon your input. Please take a minute to visit. And, to prevent that annoying spam, we ask that you register. 

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com 

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Take the Lost Managed Care Contract Challenge!

Illustrative Case Model – Are You CMP™ Worthy?

By Staff Reporterscmp-logo

The Hope Outreach Medical Clinic (HOMC) is a private, for-profit, single specialty medical clinic in a south-eastern state. It submitted its bi-annual Request for Proposal (RFP) to continue its current managed care fixed-rate contract. Upon review of the RFP, however, Sunshine Indemnity Insurance Company, the managed care organization (MCO), denied the contract request for the upcoming year.

Seeing Economic Estimates

In shock, the clinic’s CEO asked the clinic’s administrator to work with its legal team to develop a defensible estimate of economic damages that would occur as a result of the lost contract. The clinic intended to bring suit against the MCO for breach-of-contract. However, the administrator is not an attorney and is loathe to-enter the fray. After consideration however, he decided to assist in filing the Statement of Claim (SOC) because he realized that changes in patient services (unit) volume would be a valid economic surrogate. He then requested the following information from his controller, in order to develop a change in economic profit [damages] estimate.

Change in patient visits (unit) volume

  1. Fees (price) per patient (unit)
  2. Marginal (incremental) cost per patient (unit)
  3. Change in current fees (prices)
  4. Patient volume (units) affected

Key Issues:

  1. Fee (price) per patient (units) may be obtained from the fee schedule used by the MCO to pay HOMC.
  2. Marginal (incremental) costs per patient (unit) are approximated using variable costs.
  3. Higher cost payors exist because lower patient volumes raise the average cost per patient (unit) due to existing fixed costs.

Assessment

Medical management consultants, are you up to answering this challenge? We dare you to respond!

Visit: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

The Largest Purchaser of Domestic Healthcare?

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It’s the Government – Silly

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]ERT Prison Healthcare

By far, our federal government is the largest purchaser of healthcare services, according to Robert James Cimasi MHA, AVA, CMP™ of Health Capital Consultants, in St. Louis, MO; and many others.

Obama Care

Although the government faces immense pressure to control healthcare costs, especially during the current HR 3200-3400 debates, it also faces pressure to expend additional funds in order to achieve its ostensible primary mission in its involvement in healthcare, i.e., to expand and improve public health.

Federal Payment Schemes

In many ways the government has led the way for cost control through its development of resource-based reimbursement, prospective payment systems, budget limitations and other payment schemes. However, its conflicting goals have led it to approach these controls in a hesitant and piecemeal manner rather than effecting bold, comprehensive reforms.

Consider, for example, the lack of government intervention in the face of mounting pressure to remove some of the barriers preventing a reduction in US pharmaceutical costs.

Assessment

Today, most experts agree that Uncle Sam pays for at least 51% of domestic healthcare when Medicare, Medicaid, SHIPS, the VA, Indian and Prison Healthcare Systems are considered. In fact, according to our Publisher-in-Chief, Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA:

‘We already have a single payer health system in this country, but most folks just don’t realize it.”

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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FINANCE: Financial Planning for Physicians and Advisors
INSURANCE: Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors

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Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care

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Whither the Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care?

HDS

A simple query that demands a cogent answer!

Why do we need the Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care, and, why do payers, providers, benefits managers, consultants, and consumers need a credible and unbiased source of explanations for their health insurance needs and managed care products?

The Answer is Clear!

Health care is the most rapidly changing domestic industry. The revolution occurring in health insurance and managed care delivery is particularly fast. Some might even suggest these machinations were malignant, as many industry segments, professionals, and patients suffer because of them. And so, because knowledge is power in times of great flux, codified information protects all people from physical, as well as economic harm.

We appreciate the support of our sponsors. So, click-on on the links and review all dictionary products.

Link: http://healthdictionaryseries.com/TechnologySecurity.aspx

Link: http://www.findbookprices.com/author/Hope_Hetico

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On Growing Tensions in Healthcare Services Markets

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Stressors Affecting all Stakeholders

[By Robert James Cimsai; MHA, AVA, ASA, CMP™]

http://www.HealthCapital.com

The changes in reimbursement for Medicare services through the introduction of prospective payment systems and physician reimbursement cuts for professional services, as well as the increased focus on patient quality and transparency initiatives and health 2.0 collaboration have forced healthcare providers to look for more efficient ways to provide services, as well as additional sources of revenue and margin-producing business.

Additionally, with the rise of corporate healthcare provider networks and health systems, together with rising healthcare costs, competition among providers has become prevalent in the healthcare industry.

Assessment

Strict control of reimbursement costs from payers and consistent decreases in physician professional component fee reimbursement yields; reduction in traditional hospital inpatient use; and higher costs of capital have all contributed to the trend of physician investment in outpatient (and inpatient) specialty provider enterprises [ASCs, specialty hospitals and clinics, etc] , which often compete with general acute care community hospital providers.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Sherlock Expense Evaluation Report [SEER]

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Plan Management Navigator

By Marco Georeno

Ph:  215-628-228956372274      

Please find attached the April 2009 edition of Plan Management Navigator. In it we provide an update on the timing of the Blue Cross Blue Shield universe and the Independent / Provider-Sponsored editions of the Sherlock Expense Evaluation Report (SEER). In addition, we expect to circulate the benchmarking surveys for the Medicaid and Medicare universes on or about June 1st, for completion by July 20th, 2009.

Benchmarking Studies

If you are interested in participating in our benchmarking studies please contact us as soon as possible. Additional information about SEER is available at www.sherlockco.com/seer.shtml or by contacting Doug Sherlock (sherlock@sherlockco.com).

Best Practices for the Healthcare Enterprise

We also endeavor to provide an enterprise view of best practice. Best practice is typically considered to be the most efficient way of achieving a desired outcome. We believe that the best way of determining the best practice in its most practical application is to start with an overall objective and weigh all particular practices in light of how they contribute to that overall objective.

In that vein, over the next several months, Sherlock Company will be offering web conferences focused on best practices. The first conference will address activities within Customer Services, as well as activities or effects in other functional areas. This web conference will be held on Wednesday May 20th at 2:30 PM, Eastern Time. The costs will be $225. Participation is free of charge to health plans participating in our 2009 benchmarking studies. If you are interested in participating, please email Erin Sawchuk (erinsawchuk@sherlockco.com) or call at 215-628-2289.

Assessment

This edition of Navigator also discusses the latest private health plan Dashboard results for the trailing three months ended January 31, 2009.

Link: navigator

Sincerely,
Sherlock Company

Marco Georeno – Analyst
mgeoreno@sherlockco.com

Fax: 215-542-0690

Conclusion

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Understanding the Health Maintenance Organization Delivery Model

ho-journal8Defining Terms and Concepts

By Staff Writers

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

An HMO is a legal corporation that offers health insurance and medical care. It is a health care delivery system that provides comprehensive services for subscribing members in a particular geographic area. Most HMO care is provided through a managed network made up of MD/DOs, hospitals, and other allopathic/osteopathic professionals selected by the HMO. HMO enrollees are required to obtain care from this network of providers in order for their care to be covered, except in cases of emergency. All the care the members may need is paid for by the single monthly fee, plus nominal co-payments. HMOs typically offer a range of health care services at a fixed price (capitation).

Different Types

The types of HMOs are:

1. STAFF MODEL: Organization owns its clinics and employs its doctors.

2. GROUP MODEL: Contract with medical groups for services.

3. INDEPENDENT PHYSICIAN ASSOCIATION (IPA) MODEL: IPA contract that in turn contracts with individual physicians.

4. DIRECT CONTRACT or NETWORK MODEL: Contracts directly with individual physicians.

5. MIXED MODEL: Members get options ranging from staff to IPA models.

6. OPEN-PANEL MODEL: A managed care plan or HMO where members can see any provider for an extra premium cost.

Assessmentdhimc-book18

Link: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated?

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Sample HMO Disenrollment Appeal Letter

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Templates Best When Customized

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief and Managing Editor]dave-and-hope7

Dear Medical Director,

As a current non-member of your managed car plan, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of the activities we have pursued during this past year in order to gain acceptance into your plan.

For example, I have received X hours of clinical continuing education, which is X more than the state requires. Topics included recently developed techniques for pain control, non-hospital and non-surgical based therapy, more effective drug utilization, and a host of other methods of practice to reduce costs and increase patient welfare and mobility. Moreover:

  • I have received  X hours of medical business management training aimed at reducing office overhead expenses, increasing office efficiency and capacity, and improving patient flow and communications.  For example, our computerized call-back system is designed to ensure the continuity of patient care.
  • We have completed a patient survey that demonstrates that the average patient can receive a regular appointment within X days and urgent appointment within X days. Of course, we are fully staffed for immediate care of the emergent patients.  Our patient satisfaction rating is high. Most patients spend less than X minutes in the waiting room and are discharged in a timely fashion, with appropriate instructions in order to return them to work efficiently and comfortably.
  • We have expanded our office hours to improve access and enhanced the barrier free design of our office infrastructure. We are OSHA, CLIA, MSDS, PA, Sar-Box and HIPAA compliant, etc.
  • Since we believe in preventative care, our diabetic patients are continually screened and evaluated to reduce the potential for infections and other complications. This includes the liberal use of random accu-check blood sugar readings, with neurologic and circulatory assessment, with prompt reporting of aberrant values and findings to their primary care physicians or endocrinologists.
  • I will be taking my specialty board certification examination on X 2010. Of course, my results will be forwarded to you immediately.
  • I will become ABQAUR (American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review) certified and/or a Certified Physician in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) this year, after successful completion of all educational requirements and examinations.

Assessment

Although I realize that this is a challenging time for all concerned, we strive to make every patient’s visit to our office a medically and socially positive one. More specific suggestions regarding our practice would be appreciated. Therefore, we hope you will consider the probationary inclusion of our practice into your managed care plan, for the coming enrollment period.

Fraternally,

Joseph A. Smith; MD/DO  

Conclusion

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Appealing HMO Disenrollment Decisions

Physician Pro-Activity May Help

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Managing Editor]hetico

The decision by an HMO to not include you – the medical provider – in their plan or network; or disenroll you if already included; is not irrevocable. You may not have been included, or rejected, because of a number of reasons, including: clinical or economic re-credentialing, malpractice history, unfavorable patient survey, certification, or a host of other tangible or intangible reasons.

Appeal Guidelines

Therefore, in order for you to appeal the decision, the following guidelines are suggested in any request for a reconsideration process.

1. First, get a letter of explanation from the medical or clinical executive director.

2. Ensure your initial application went through the proper channels of consideration.

3. Contact your local plan representative, in person, if possible.

4. Make sure your state and national medical afflictions are current, as well as hospital and surgical center staffing applications and credentials.

5. Write a letter to the medical director and send it return receipt (US mail) or by private carrier. Inform the director of the actions you are taking to become more attractive to the plan or what you have done to correct the deficiencies that caused your non- inclusion initially.

6. Keep current if you have an “Any-Willing-Provider-Law” in your State.

7. Remember; once dropped by one plan, it will be easier to be dropped again by another. Fight hard to prevent this from happening.  Hire a professional consultant to champion your cause.biz-book8

Assessment

A sample letter will be provider later on this ME-P. Be honest and do not lie, but do try to cast your practice in a favorable light. Adjust for your practice specialty.

Conclusion

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Understanding HMO Negotiation Tactics

Tricks Often Used Against Doctors

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief and Managing Editor]dave-and-hope6

It is well known that stakeholders of the healthcare industrial complex often have different, and divergent, interests. Intra-as well as inter-stakeholder competition occurs; as well.

The Friends-Enemies [“Frenemies”]

For example, several decades ago, the authors were often at odds at the payer negotiation table.

He was managing partner of a large private medical practice, ASC and later PPMC. First, she was the representative of a national DME vendor, healthcare system and later, private insurance payer.

The Tactics

The following trick negotiating tactics can be used to gain an advantage over your opponent, or they can be used against you to your disadvantage. The key is to recognize them immediately:

1. Deliberate deception with phony facts about contracts, providers, patients, venues, demographics, prices, utilization rates or services.  Some MCO’s may even offer a fee-for-service fee schedule as enticement into the plan. Then, fees are dramatically reduced once the initial enrollment period has elapsed.

2. Ambiguous authority regarding negotiating intentions or power. One the deal is done and a firm agreement has been made, the other side announces that they must take the agenda to a higher authority for final approval and another shot at your resistance. 

3. Avoid stressful personal situations before beginning the negotiating process. Don’t negotiate when sick, your personal life in shambles, your children or spouse is sick or when you feel too mentally exhausted or “psyched out”.

4. Personal attacks can be in the form of verbal abuse or simply loud talking, avoidance of eye contact or asking you to repeat yourself, endlessly. Extremely offensive to most physicians, and increasingly used today, is the phrase “remember doctor, you are an over supplied commodity”.  Now ask yourself, do you really want to be on a plan that doesn’t respect your profession?  

5. The “good guy-bad guy” routine is a psychological tactic where one partner appears to be hard nosed and the other appears more yielding. Small concessions result which, upon repetition, become larger in aggregate.

6. The “take it or leave it” tactic can be easily avoided by knowing your BANTA [Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement]. More formally, this is known as a unilateral contract of adhesion.

7. Escalating or increasing demands occur when the opponent increases his demands or reopens old demands. Call their bluff on this one by pointing it out to them and replying that you are aware of its use.

Assessment

Always remember, today’s enemy – may be tomorrow’s ally.

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Conclusion

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Defining Comparative Medical Effectiveness

An Emerging Health Economics Issue

By Staff Reportersdhimc-book8

Comparative Medical Effectiveness [CME] is not a new healthcare term or health economics concept. Federal initiatives specifically promoting CME were authorized under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, but the genesis took root decades before.

Finally … a Hot Topic

Comparative Medical Effectiveness has recently become a hot topic again throughout the arena of health care stakeholders, due to funding and initiatives advanced by the Obama administration, and the positive and negative reactions drawn by different sectors of stakeholders.

Related to Evidence Based Outcomes

For stakeholders including numerous health care policy organizations, the health plan industry, and various health care provider organizations: public and private promotion of Comparative Medical Effectiveness reviews and processes offer the potential for more evidence-based, outcome-benefit or even cost-benefit driven information to improve the health care decision making for all parties. And, for stakeholders concerned about limiting the role of government and third parties in their level of regulation and control over the direct delivery of specific patient care, Comparative Medical Effectiveness may become a lightening rod due to perceived potential as to how the process and information could ultimately be applied.

Definition of the CBO Report

The Congressional Budget Office Report “Comparative Effectiveness: Issues and Options for an Expanded Federal Role” offers the definition that follows:

“As applied in the health care sector, an analysis of comparative medical effectiveness is simply a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy. The analysis may focus only on the relative medical benefits and risks of each option, or it may also weigh both the costs and the benefits of those options. In some cases, a given treatment may prove to be more effective clinically or more cost-effective for a broad range of patients, but frequently a key issue is determining which specific types of patients would benefit most from it. Related terms include cost–benefit analysis, technology assessment, and evidence-based medicine, although the latter concepts do not ordinarily take costs into account.”

Assessment

For related financial, economics, managed-care, insurance, health information technology and security, and health administrative terms and definitions of modernity, visit: http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. How do you define this term, and is its’ very definition evolving?

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Understanding MD/DO HMO Contracts

Pitfalls Physicians Must Avoid

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief and Managing Editor]dave-and-hope5

It is well known that stakeholders of the healthcare industrial complex often have different, and divergent, interests. Intra-as well as inter-stakeholder competition occurs; as well.

The Friends-Enemies [“Frenemies”]

For example, several decades ago, the authors were often at odds at the payer negotiation table.

He was managing partner of a large private medical practice, ASC and later PPMC. First, she was the representative of a national DME vendor, healthcare system and later, private insurance payer.

Key Pit Falls to Avoid

There are seven key pitfalls to watch out for when evaluating an MCO contract.

1.  Profitability: Less than 52% of all senior physician executives know whether their managed care contracts are profitable. “Many simply sign up and hope for the best”.

2. Financial Data:  90% of all executives said the ability to obtain financial information was valuable, “yet only 50% could obtain the needed data”.

3.  Information Technology: IT hardware and sophisticated software is needed to gather, evaluate and interpret clinical and financial data; yet it is typically “unavailable to the solo or small group practice”.

4. Underpayments: This rate is typically between 3-10% and is usually “left on the table”.

5. Cash Flow Forecasting: MCO contracting will soon begin yearly (or longer) compensation disbursements, “causing significant cash flow problems to many physicians and physicians”.

6. Stop Loss Minimums: SLMs are one-time upfront premium charges for stop loss insurance. However, if the contract is prematurely terminated; you may not receive a pro-rata refund unless you ask for it!

7. Automatic Contract Renewals: ACRs or “evergreen” contracts automatically renew unless one party objects. This is convenient for both the payer and payee, but may result in overlapping renewal and re-negotiation deadlines. Hence, a contract may be continued on a sub-optimal basis, to the detriment of the provider. 

biz-book5

Assessment

Always remember, in the game of negotiations, today’s enemy – may be tomorrow’s ally.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Events-Planner: April 2009

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Events-Planner: APRIL 2009

Staff Writers

“Keeping track of important health economics and financial industry meetings, conferences and summits”

Welcome to this issue of the Medical Executive-Post and our Events-Planner. It contains the latest information on conferences, news, and relevant resources in healthcare finance, economics, research and development, business management, pharmaceutical pricing, and physician/entity reimbursement!  Watch for a new Events-Planner each month.

First, a little about us! The Executive-Post is still a newcomer. But today, we have almost 15,000 visitors and readers each month from all over the country, in addition to our growing subscriber base. We have been a successful collaborative effort, thanks to your contributions.  As a result, we are adding new resources daily.  And, we hope the website continues to provide the best place to go for journals, books, conferences, educational resources, tools, and other things you need to establish the value your healthcare consulting and financial advisory intervention. And so, enjoy the Executive-Post and our monthly Events-Planner with our compliments. 

 

A Look Ahead this Month

 

April 1: Print Edition Healthcare Journalism: If you would like to “step-up-your-game” and be considered as a peer-reviewed contributor to the third print edition of: The Business of Medical Practice [Advanced Profit Maximizing Techniques for Savvy Doctors]; contact Ann at: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com. There are several chapter topics still available. Now, the important dates:

April 1-3: Adv. Modeling Methods for Health Economic Evaluation, York, UK.

April 4-8: HIMSS Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

April 6: Premier Forum on Medication Therapy Management and Patient Compliance Programs. CBI; Las Vegas, NV

April 7: FINRA Small Conference Series, New York, NY.

April 14: World health Care Congress; Washington, DC.

April 15-16: Tiburon CEO Summit, Ritz Carlton, New York, NY.

April 15-18: Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s 21st Annual Meeting and Showcase, Orlando, FL.

April 16-18: TIPAAA Annual Conference, Marriott River Center, San Antonio, TX.

April 20-24: Health Economics of Pharmaceuticals and Other Medical Interventions. Nice (Cannes) France.

April 21-22: Market Access Strategies for Personalized Medicines and Companion Diagnostics, Brussels, Belgium.

April 21-23: Introduction to Applied Health Economics: Methods for analysis of healthcare utilization and expenditure, University of York.
April 23-25: AIP Conference on Philanthropy, Rosemont, Ill.

April 25-29:  Society for Pain Practice Management Meeting, Phoenix, AZ.

April 26-29:  Wound Healing Society Symposium, Dallas, TX. 

Apr 27-28: 8th Annual Forum on Patient Compliance, Adherence and Persistency, Philadelphia, PA.

April 27-29: Workshop on Health Technology Assessment From Theory to Evidence to Policy, Toronto, CANADA.

April 28-May 1: Pharma Pricing and Market Access Outlook Europe, 2009, London.

April 29-May 2: American Geriatric Society Meeting, Chicago, IL.

 

Please send in your meetings and dates for listing in the next issue of our Events-Planner.

MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Meet Dr. Gary L. Bode CPA MSA CMP™ [Hon]

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Introducing our Newest Thought-Leader

Dr. Gary Bode; CPA, MSA, CMP

[By Ann Miller RN MHA]

The Medical Executive-Post is proud to introduce Dr. Gary L. Bode as our newest thought-leader for healthcare financial modernity. Dr. Bode was the Chief Financial Officer [CFO] for a private mental healthcare facility, and previously the Chief Executive Officer [CEO] of Comprehensive Practice Accounting, Inc, in Wilmington, NC. The firm specialized in providing tax solution to medical professionals. Dr. Bode was a board certified practitioner and managing partner of a multi-office medical group practice for a decade before earning his Master’s of Science degree in Accounting [MSA] from the University of North Carolina. He is a nationally known forensic health accountant, financial author, educator and speaker.

A Multi-Faceted Healthcare Financial Expert

Areas of expertise include producing customized managerial accounting reports, practice appraisals and valuations, restructurings and innovative financial accounting, as well as proactive tax positioning and tax return preparation for healthcare facilities. Currently, Dr. Bode is Chief Accounting and Valuation Officer (CAVO) for the Institute of Medical Business Advisors, Inc. He is also a Certified Medical Planner™ http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org  He provides litigation support in his areas of expertise and has been previously accepted as a legal expert witness www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

Assessment

Gary has promised to publish his most exciting ideas and innovative work on our blog. He is also available for private consulting engagements and related professional work on an ad-hoc, or interim basis. So, let’s give a warm ME-P “shout-out” to Dr. Gary L Bode; our newest thought-leader.   

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Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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About Free-Labor Contributing Authors

The Most Important Medical Executive-Post Asset

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA

Managing Editorhetico4

The Medical Executive-Post is a knowledge aggregator of user-generated content. It is a network where users share, recommend, rank and comment on professional submissions by experts and thought-leaders. We believe that better submissions, lead to better actionable knowledge and professional lives.

Great information can also help us do, become and experience the professional goals and accomplishments that make us happy and more successful. Our mission is to help people discover and use this deeply gratifying electronic and/or print content.

Content Broadcasting

Every Medical Executive-Post is submitted by members of our community. You send-in content and comments, and we rate the clicks as recommendations on this blog. We call this ranking process “content-broadcasting.” It increases your exposure and helps to establish and disseminate your uniquely professional brand-image. Your submit content, and we do the rest.

A Niche Industry

When you make a submission, click-on a post or make a comment, you are in-effect saying that you think the content is worth reading and spending time to review. You are answering the question, “What do I need to know and where can I find the answer“, for people who share your interests and passion in the healthcare industrial complex and related health economics and nice practice management space.

Built by Free-Labor Entrepreneurs

The Medical Executive-Post is a privately-funded Web 2.0 company. We are committed to improving the overall quality of deeply specific Internet content search experiences by offering this utility platform for professional user-generated content and recommendations. The Medical Executive-Post was initially built by a team of seasoned Internet entrepreneurs, editors, and bloggers. But you, our free-labor entrepreneurs and contributing authors are now our most important long-term survival asset. Thank you.submission-frenzy

Assessment

To see what else we are up to; please visit our related websites, links, books and products on each side-bar. Learn how your bottom-up efforts – become valuable real-world print content.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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About ENURGI

Transforming Home Health Care Services

Staff Reporters56382989

According to its website, ENURGI is a revolutionary web-based healthcare services company that connects families and patients in need, with local clinical caregivers across the country.

Online Empowerment

ENURGI allows patients, family members and caregivers to independently manage the care process through on-line scheduling, messaging, referral and direct payment transactions.

A Caregiver Database

ENURGI’s goal is to transform the delivery of home health care services across the country. It is the first web-based company to aggregate and create a clinical caregiver database for families and patients in need of home health care to access and connect with.

Assessment

By harnessing the power of technology, ENURGI has accumulated over 1,000,000 clinicians within its caregiver database for families/patients in need to access when seeking a licensed clinician, certified nurses aide or home health aide.

Link: http://www.enurgi.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Is this not the perfect post to conclude our four part series on: At Home or Nursing Home Care for Long Term Care? Opinions from physicians, medical case and geriatric care managers, and LTC insurance agents are especially valued.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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About Health CEOs for Healthcare Reform

A Coalition from the New America Foundation

Staff Reporters

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Many pundits posit that real health reform will entail quality, affordable coverage for all Americans and a restructured health care delivery system. And, a growing number of health industry leaders understand they must reorganize their business models to realize these goals.

Health CEOs for Reform

Recognizing that business as usual is no longer a sustainable model in health care, a diverse coalition of six CEOs from across the health care sector have come together to form Health CEOs for Health Reform [HC4HR]. The coalition, facilitated by the New America Foundation, brings together health industry leaders with a unique willingness to transform their business models to create a more sustainable health system.

Guiding Principles

According the its website, the group’s members are committed to moving past broad policy concepts toward detailed blueprints that reconcile the legislative goals and principles of lawmakers with the operational realities of our health care system. The coalition is built on the following three principles:

 

  1. Health reform is an urgent priority for our nation and should not be postponed.
  2. Meaningful health reform entails quality, affordable health coverage for all and delivery system reform. This will require all stakeholders to move away from “business as usual.”
  3. A more sustainable health system will require all health care stakeholders to offer and accept changes to their business models as part of a catalytic package that will better serve everyone.

Assessment

The CEOs announced the formation of HC4HR in an event at the National Press Club. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] provided a Congressional keynote for the event, stressing the importance of health reform in our national agenda and applauding the leadership shown by HC4HR.

Link: http://www.newamerica.net/events/2008/ceos_health_reform

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Do we really need another group to discuss healthcare reform? We all know the problems of divergent stakeholder interest. Is this the time for solutions, or another group reframing the problem?

Speaker:If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Managed Care IBNR Claims

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Tax Savings Strategies

[By Ana Vassallo] AND [Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA]

Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) that accept capitated risk contracts face a potentially significant tax burden for Incurred but Not Reported (IBNR) claims. It is not uncommon that IBNR claims at the end of a reporting period equal one to two months premiums for MCOs under a fee-for-service model. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has taken a very strong position relative to the deductibility of these claims by saying that an MCO cannot deduct such losses if they are based on estimates.

Incurred But Not Reported [IBNR] Claims

IBNR is a term that refers to the costs associated with a medical service that has been provided, but for which the carrier has not yet received a claim. The carrier to account for estimated liability based on studies of prior lags in claim submission records IBNR reserves. In capitated contracts, MCOs are responsible for IBNR claims of their enrollees (Kennedy, 1). 

For example, if an enrollee is treated in an emergency room, a plan may not know it is liable for this care for at least 30-60 days. Well-run plans devote considerable attention to accurately estimating such claims because a plan can look healthy based on claims submitted and be financially unhealthy if IBNR claims experience is increasing substantially but is unknown.

Why a Problem for HMO’s/MCOs 

Section 809(d)(1) of the Code provides that, for purposes of determining the gain and loss from operations, a insurance company shall be allowed a deduction for all claims and benefits accrued, and all losses incurred (whether or not ascertained), during the taxable year on insurance and annuity contracts.  Section 1.809-5(a) (1) of the Income Tax Regulations provides that the term “losses incurred (whether or not ascertained)” includes a reasonable estimate of the amount of the losses (based upon the facts in each case and the company’s experiences with similar cases) incurred but not reported by the end of the taxable year as well as losses reported but where the amount thereof cannot be ascertained by the end of the year. By taking into account for its prior years only the reported losses but not the unreported losses, the taxpayer has established a consistent pattern of treating a material item as a deduction. The effect of the taxpayer’s claim for the first time of a deduction for an estimate of losses incurred but unreported under section 809(d)(1) of the Code, was to change the timing for taking the deduction for the incurred but unreported losses.

Due to the taxpayer consistently deducting losses incurred in the taxable year in which reported, a change in the time for deducting losses incurred under section 809(d)(1) is a change in the method of accounting for such losses to which the provisions of section 446(e) apply (IRS, 14-30). 

In order to qualify for an insurance company under the current IRS regulations, the MCO must have the following criteria (Kongstvedt, 235-256):

· At least 50% of the MCO must come from insurance related activities.

· The MCO must have an insurance company license.

If an MCO did not have these two criteria, the IRS will not deem the manage care company as an eligible insurance company.  Therefore, the MCO would not be able to file for IBNRs with the IRS.

How MCOs/HMOs Intensify IBRN Claims

There is a high degree of uncertainty inherent in the estimates of ultimate losses underlying the liability for unpaid claims.  The only reason the IRS would not allow an MCO to deduct IBNR because the financial statements is based on an estimate (IRS, 134-155).

Except through the insurance company exclusion IRS does not allow any taxpayer to deduct losses based on estimates. There has been some precedence set that the IRS will accept an amount for incurred but not reported claims if the amount is supported by valid receipts of claims that the company has in-house prior to the filing of the tax return.

There has been some controversy as to how long of a period of reporting time the IRS will allow you to include in those estimates. There are ranges from 3-6 months to file a claim (IRS, 137). The process by which these reserves are established requires reliance upon estimates based on known facts and on interpretations of circumstances, including the business’ experience with similar cases and historical trends involving claim payment patterns, claim payments, pending levels of unpaid claims and product mix, as well as other factors including court decisions, economic conditions and public attitudes.

There has been no clear indication from the IRS that it will accept an accrual for these losses and entities. Therefore, companies deducting such losses may eventually find themselves in a position where the IRS may challenge the relating deductibility of those losses.

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Evaluating IBNRs from a New Present Value Perspective

The best measure of whether or not a stream of future cash flows actually adds value to the organization is the net present value (NPV).  The best decision rule for NPV to accept or reject a decision problem is if the NPV is greater than zero, the project adds value to the organization.  Although – if the NPV is exactly zero it neither adds nor subtracts value from the organization (McLean 193).  In either case, the project is acceptable.  In addition, if the NPV is less than zero, the project subtracts value from the organization and should not be undertaken (McLean, 193).

The provision for unpaid claims represents an estimate of the total cost of outstanding claims to the year-end date. Included in the estimate are reported claims, claims incurred but not reported and an estimate of adjustment expenses to be incurred on these claims. The losses are necessarily subject to uncertainty and are selected from a range of possible outcomes (Veal, 11). During the life of the claim, adjustments to the losses are made as additional information becomes available. The change in outstanding losses plus paid losses is reported as claims incurred in the current period.

All but the smallest organizations have predictable and unpredictable losses. It is important mentally to separate the two since predictable losses are not risks but normal business expenses. Risk is the degree to which losses vary from the expected. If losses average $85,000 per year but could be as much as $20 million, the risk is $20 million minus $85,000. The $85,000 figure represents reasonably predictable losses (Veal, 12).

IBNR Challenges and Solutions

While I was unable to find an actual amount of the cost of the penalties that can be incurred, the IRS is able to impose penalty fees under Section 4958 of the IRS code (IRS, 255). While penalties differ depending on individual bases, MCOs will be penalizing for any misconduct either by IRS Codes or Court Jurisdiction.

It is prudent that MCOs ensure their organization that they will not incur a financial “meltdown”. They further need to ensure IBNR is funded for period of at least 2-3 months. In some states, the state laws make the MCO financially responsible to pay the providers for a second time if the intermediary fails to pay or becomes insolvent (Cagle, 1).

Paid losses, paid expenses and net premiums are usually deductible; reserves for incurred-but-unpaid losses generally are not, unless the taxpaying entity is an insurance company. Consequently, if a corporation has a high effective tax rate and concedes that it cannot deduct self-insured loss reserves, some of its more cost-effective options may be a paid-loss retro (if state rules are not too restrictive), a compensating balance plan, or the formation of a pool or industry captive. Even these plans may be subject to IRS challenge. To qualify as a tax-deductible expense, a premium or other payment must satisfy two criteria (Cagle, 2):

 

  • There must be transfer of risk: an insurance risk. This differs from investment risk, but there is no authoritative definition of “risk transfer” other than various court decisions (primarily Helvering v. Le Gierse, 312 US 531 — U.S. Supreme Court 1941).
  • There must be both risk shifting and risk distribution. “Risk shifting” means that one party shifts the risk of loss to another, generally not in the same corporate family. “Risk distribution” means that the party assuming the risk distributes the potential liability, in part, among others.

The deductibility of an insurance expense may also be questioned if it is contingent upon a future happening, such as a loss payment, right to a dividend or other credit, or possible forgiveness of future loans or notes (Cagle, 3). This may seem a broad statement, but the Cost Accounting Standards Board states in its Standards for Accounting for Insurance Expense that any expense which is recoverable if there are no losses shall be accounted as a deposit, not an expense. This is essentially the IRS position (IRS, 145).

Assessment

While there are a few solutions to this matter, the IRS is making sure that MCOs will be penalized if MCOs improperly handle IBNRs.  It is also important for organizations to understand the MCO’s policies regarding IBNR reserves and their contractual obligations. And, while the IRS has set limitations for MCOs to file their IBNR claims, MCOs have the major responsibility of allocating these IBNR claims appropriately.  There are severe penalties for not properly filing the IBNR claims appropriately.  However, there is several tax saving strategies to help MCOs properly file their IBNR claims with the IRS.  It imperative that MCO executives and accounting manager consult an expert to properly plan an ethical strategy that will help them build a stable business that is trustworthy and reliable.

Bibliography

1. Cagle, Jason, Esq., Interview, June 8, 2004, interview performed by Ana Vassallo.

2. McLean, Robert A., Net Profit Value, Pages 193-194, 2nd Edition, Thomson/Delmar Learning, Financial Management in Heath Care Organization, 2003.

3. Patient-Physician Network, Managed Care Glossary, Printed 6/11/04 http:/www.drppg.com/managed_care.asp.

4. Internal Revenue Services, IRS.Gov, Printed 6/12/04, http://www.irs.gov/

5. Internal Revenue Services, Revenue Ruling, Printed 6/11/04, http://www.taxlinks.com/rulings/1079/revrul179-21.thm

6. Kongstvedt, Peter R., Managed Care – What It Is and How it Works, Pages 235-256, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2003.

7. Veale, Tom, The Return of Captives in the Hard Market, Tristar Risk Management Aug. 22, 2002, San Diego RIMS.

Conclusion

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Weighted Role of Commercial Health Insurance

Understanding Disproportional Influence

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA,

ho-journal4Most domestic health care is paid for by some type of insurance, whether private or governmental. Most private health insurance is purchased through employers who, to a great degree, make most of the buying decisions. Employer coalitions have emerged but, in general, most command leverage on price rather than quality or value. This often leaves healthcare providers as the only advocates for the quality, choice and access concerns of consumers.

Business Impact

According to Robert James Cimasi, writing and opining in the print journal: Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strateges] www.HealthCareFinancials.com, despite the fact that businesses bear less of the total U.S. healthcare premium dollar (approximately 25%) than government or individuals; corporate buyers and their coalitions and associations have asserted substantial, if disproportionate, influence over healthcare companies.

Best Community Interest Debate

Whether or not this is necessarily always in the best interests of consumers or the community at large is a matter of heated debate. What is generally acknowledged is that the relative bargaining position of buyers and providers in a given market has a dramatic impact on healthcare provider financial performance.

Healthcare is Different

Much like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s different-rich; keep in mind that healthcare differs in several respects from other industry sectors, in that:

  • There is more than one class of buyers: there are patients, families (proxies), insurance companies, and employers, each with different objectives.
  • The single largest payer, the government, both dictates a large portion of the healthcare pricing structure and strongly influences the rest.
  • There is a crucial divide or (“disconnect”) between consumer and payer.
  • A lack of information regarding consumer needs and quality of providers impedes the purchasers of health insurance from selecting the optimal plan.

Assessment

Of course, the impact of the Obama administration on this topic has yet to be seen. 

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Is this commercial influence on health insurance good or bad; please share your experiences with us.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Hospital Industry Summary

Statistical Results for 2007
Staff Writers

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In 2006, 52.4% of the 4,956 short-term, acute-care, nonfederal hospitals in the U.S. were affiliated with medical healthcare systems [MHSs], up from 51.8% of the 4,911 in 2005. Some other statistics are:

  • The average number of hospital days per 1,000 members of HMOs not owned by MHSs grew 6.6% in 2006, to 302.2 from 283.6 in 2005, the fifth consecutive annual increase.
  • In 2006, total hospital outpatient revenue was $103.6 million, up 9.9% from $94.3 million in 2005. As a consequence, the outpatient revenue percentage of total hospital revenue increased to 38.1% from 37.4% the prior year.
  • The average number of prescriptions dispensed to non-Medicare members of MHS-owned HMOs decreased slightly in 2006, to 8.5 from 8.7 the previous year.
  • Between 2005 (11,485.8) and 2006 (11,292.9), the average number of admissions fell at hospitals in MHSs that owned HMOs, the first such decline in this measure since 2001 (9,799.7).
  • Between 2005 and 2006, the ratio of FTE registered nurses (RNs) to occupied beds rose both at hospitals in MHSs that owned HMOs (to 2.08 from 2.05) and at hospitals in MHSs that did not own HMOs (to 2.02 from 2.00).
  • In 2006, total costs per occupied bed were just over $1.0 million at hospitals that were part of MHSs that owned HMOs, up 4.7% from $987,827 in 2005. Since 2001 ($821,194), these costs have risen by more than one-quarter (26.0%).
  • Non-MHS hospitals averaged 164.7 outpatient visits per day, up 5.2% from 156.6 in 2005, the fourth consecutive annual rise.
  • After rising notably between 2004 (60.2%) and 2005 (66.4%), the average intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rate forMHS hospitals fell slightly in 2006, to 65.3%.
  • Pharmaceutical expenses per discharge at hospitals tied to government-run MHSs fell 27.9% in 2006, to $1,380 from $1,915 in 2005, reversing two straight years of double-digit growth.

*Acknowledgements

The editors and author acknowledges Verispan LLC, Yardley, Pa., as the research and reporting source for this data, reprinted with permission and based on information gathered by mail and telephone surveys gathered and effective as of December 31, 2008, unless otherwise noted.  It was commissioned, sponsored and underwritten in an arm’s length fashion by the Managed Care Digest Series of sanofi-aventis, Bridgewater, NJ, and developed and produced by Forte Information Resources, LLC, Denver, Colorado.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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White House Office of Health Reform

Dual Role for Health and Human Services Secretary

Staff Reporters

capital

According to the Associated Press, December 11, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will play two roles in the new Obama administration. He will serve as HHS Secretary and also oversee a new role as Director of White House Health Policy Office.

Deputy Director Well Known

Jeanne Lambrew, who helped Daschle write a book on health care reform, will serve as deputy director of the new White House health policy office. Lambrew worked on health care reform issues at the White House during the Clinton administration and currently serves as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Assessment

Leaders of health advocacy groups have described Lambrew as one of Daschle’s most trusted advisers on health issues. She will oversee planning efforts.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Do you think this important new role deserves a full time advocate; or not?  

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Eight Fallacies of Managed Care

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A Startling iMBA Inc., Report on Small Medical Practices

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[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]

[By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™]

[By Ann Miller; RN, MHA]

Webster defines a visionary as: “one who is able to see into the future”. Unlike some pundits, prescience is not a quality we claim to possess. To the purveyors of small medical practice gloom however, the future for physicians is a bleak “fate’ accompli”. If you are of this philosophical Ilk – we politely but firmly disagree. In fact, during a recent brainstorming session at the Institute of Medical Business Advisors www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com we arrived at some startling conclusions that challenge contemporary information. Therefore, “ceretas paribus” – all things being equal – these findings impute conventional wisdom and are called: The Eight Myths of Managed Medical Care.

MYTH 1: “Solo and Smaller Private Practitioners Will Die”

Economies of scale and prevailing Health Information Technology (HIT) systems may indeed force some smaller allopathic, podiatric or osteopathic practices, as well as some “surgical” specialists, into group or non-equity based practices.  New “one-stop medical malls” are desirable to HMO’s because of their urgent or emergent care availability, myriad of provider types and quality assurance mechanisms. This will even happen in non-procedure based family practices, with internists and in currently spared rural areas as Integrated Systems Digital Networks (ISDN), Regional Health Information Organizations [RHIOs] and related computer transmission technology becomes more available and less expensive. But, routine medicine is ideally suited for the repetitive task orientation philosophy of many of HMO’s.

MGMT. TIP: If you want to remain a private or solo practitioner, re-engineering one’s office activities (cost drivers) to reduce steps that do not add value to your services is perhaps all that is needed to increase efficiency and net margins. Strive to reduce duplicated activities and redundant data transmissions and people tasks. Delegate responsibility and lower the decision making threshold to a need-to-know basis. Empower appropriate employees and make them accountable for their decisions, but do not give them responsibility without authority. As time progresses, steps to reduce variable and then fixed costs, can be implemented to further increase profit. Additionally, solo office practice is very amenable to out-sourcing onerous chores such as human resource management and accounting needs.

MYTH 2: “All Small Medical Practices Will be Purchased by Larger Companies”

This may be true for some aspects of comprehensive medical care. Fortunately, primary care has never totally been given its due and esteem by the medical community or AMA, and smaller practices do not appear to be corporate “takeover” targets. While this may happen in some exceptionally large practices, equity control or financial compensation should more than remunerate the owner-managers of such behemoth practices. Unfortunately, servitude to Wall Street is another matter to consider. Make no mistake however mere size does not encourage acquisition, just as solo practice does not entice appropriation by all management associations.

MGMT TIP: Use the engineering concept of Project Management (PM) and the Critical Path Method (CPM) to determine pivotal or slack steps in the flow of your office. Then modify your processes accordingly. GANNT charts, PERT graphs and Paretto diagrams are helpful visual and practical aides in this regard.

MYTH 3: “You Must Run Your Practice By the Financial Numbers”

Many so-called business experts preach the concept of financial “number -crunching”. In other words, how much revenue is derived, from how many patients per month, week and day, according to some estimated utilization rate?  With this method, physicians are reduced to hourly “employees” and patients to “encounters”. Actuarial firms may even be hired to legitimize the numbers and suggest care standards. While it is important to consider financial tangibles, we must not forget that “numbers can lie”, and that the information from a computer spreadsheet is only as good as its input (GIGO = “garbage in-garbage out”). This is especially evident when one realizes that such firms are only thinly disguised benefits consultants, with a built in bias to cost reductions and rationed care. Therefore, be aware of the potential negative intangibles of a strict business output mentality and recognize that medicine is an intensively personal experience. Lowering the economic “per unit cost” of a widget may be desirable to a manufacturer, but price is only one aspect of good medical care. Other tangible or intangible concepts are often far more important and the negotiating side that first realizes what constitutes these trigger-points, instantly occupies the stronger competitive bargaining position.

For example, doctors should know the answer to many vital questions before entering into any contract negotiations. These include, but are certainly not limited to the following:

  • Doctor control and expectations
  • Contract exclusivity and inclusively
  • Utilization review, “carve-outs”, gag orders and termination clauses
  • And our personal pet peeve; NPI numbers and organizational fiscal data sharing.

Recall the often used example of selling airplane seats is a good way to illustrate the concept of intangibles. Let’s assume a plane has a capacity of 100 seats, 90 of which are sold at the normal ticket price of one hundred dollars; for a total revenue of $9,000. If total costs represent a break-even point of eight thousand dollars, a one thousand dollar profit is realized. Therefore, if any single remaining seat can be sold at a discount; more profit is generated since the plane will fly anyway.

Now, suppose there was a chance that one of the discounted seats will be bought by a terrorist bomber; would the additional marginal profit still be worthwhile?  Of course not! Extending our analogy to the typical small medical office, some management guru’s might argue that a discounted HMO patient is better than no patient at all. But as a doctor, suppose your empty treatment room was filled by a noncompliant capitated diabetic patient with a foot infection, or a litigious prone patient? Tangible considerations aside, don’t the potential medical, legal and emotional entanglements of these situations exceed their marginal benefits? Of course they do!  Philosophically, one could argue that these possibilities still exist in a fee-for-service environment and be quite correct.

Therefore, rest assured that we are not advocating the wholesale non-treatment or abandonment of patients in need. We are simply noting the capitalistic and very demoralizing human feelings of, “why bother”. Or, shall we accept the Socialistic epistemology of laborers who “pretend to work while the government pretends to pay?” Fortunately, primary care seldom presents with many significant moral challenges. Nevertheless, this tawdry rationing type scenario can, and does happen, in the hallowed halls of medicine; daily.

Need proof?  An anonymous Medical Outcomes Study, a few years ago, from the New England Medical Center claimed that of specialists surveyed, one third believed that they provided worst care to HMO members than fee-for-service patients, not just because of any moral deficiency, but because the HMO reduced their access to medical resources. Now we ask; is anyone surprised?

MGMT. TIP: Running your practice solely by the numbers is insane and the rat race will lead you to an early grave as you try to do more, with less, and in less time. Rather, select your insurance contracts carefully and negotiate aggressively for the best deals, and limit your liability with exclusions and stop-lose parameters. Besides, there is no need to join every panel; be selective in your own favor. Recall, mutual contract concessions should benefit both parties, and a contract so negotiated should be mutually advantageous; but not equally advantageous. Aggressive business consultants do not incorporate the conventional wisdom of a “win-win” negotiated settlement. We negotiate to win for our clients and champion their success.

MYTH 4: “Capitation will Kill Fee-for Service Medicine”

All primary doctors do not have to practice deeply discounted capitated medicine. We estimate that only half of all internists will have to become low cost providers and many, either by design or happenstance already are. The remainder will successfully and profitably provide the specialty or value-added services that much of the public demands. HMO’s that do not offer these quality services will perish. The “cost shifting” to private insurance companies currently prevalent will not accelerate, because the population that chooses to retain traditional indemnity insurance will no longer allow it. Such health and quality conscious patients will revolt against high insurance premiums and refuse to be penalized for desiring comprehensive care and for pursuing a healthy life-style. Similarly, physicians who now bear “financial risk” for providing care to noncompliant patients will decide that the incentive to do so is not enough. Patients will be forced to bear their own financial risk as they become compelled to pay higher premiums, co-pays, surcharges or other penalties for unhealthy habits such as smoking, obesity or inactivity. Health care will come full circle by putting the financial burden back on patients.

A survey in Medical Interface a few years ago, revealed that overall, 21% of all capitated patients in a studied cohort rated their HMO as fair to poor, compared with 14% in traditional indemnity systems. Additionally, allow us to quote from Dr. Alain Einthoven, medical economist and author of the original Jackson Hole Managed Care Assemblage:

“Permutations of managed care will produce a dizzying array of benefit levels at varying price structures. HMO’s however will try to mislead the public, through intense advertising campaigns, into believing that all arrangements provide equal benefits at reduced costs.  Medicine’s job is to prove the contrary to the middle class, since the well educated and affluent are becoming aware of the distinction and the poor have no choice”.

Myth 5: “Managed Care Will Socialize Medicine”

The Nixon administration advocated a type of socialized medicine back in the seventies. Obviously, the concept did not take root.  In the nineties, the Clinton administration’s attempt to establish a national standard in its health reform package ended with similar disastrous results. In fact, about 80% of that reform package consisted of bureaucratic rules and regulations to force equality on a capitalistic system. Now, the Obama Administration may pursue a national healthcare agenda, although others argue that the marketplace has achieved the managed care socialism that politicians could not, thus far. As we see it however, the average American is fiercely competitive and not at all egalitarian. There will always be the “have and have not’s” in our society and strictly socialized medicine is not in our future. In fact, we believe that multilayered care will develop, which is just a little different than contemporary traditional insurance plans.

There will always be a basic level of marginal HMO care for the elderly and indigent sponsored by various local, state, national and charitable foundations. The blue collared working middle class will receive better care through PPO’s, MCO’s and PO’s physician managed plans. The bulk of activity for providers, payers and recipients will take place at this level. Note the caveat, “physician-managed”, since doctors will take back their place as maestro of the medical care symphony. The doctor-manager dichotomy will blur as physicians control their professional and economic lives and obviate the need for broker-middlemen-agents sucking huge profits out of the system at the expense of patient and provider.

MGMT. TIP: Notice how aggressively HMO’s are marketing their services to welfare recipients and aged Medicare patients. Likewise, notice how few managers, professionals, corporate executives, unions and politicians join these same HMO’s. Decide immediately your target market, and act accordingly. Remember, the affluent will always pay top dollar for truly quality care and assume independent personal financial risk for their health. The form of care rendered may be in the guise of a cafeteria benefits plan, FSA, HSA, MSA or some other similar arrangement; but it will undoubtedly occur as long as our tax structure favors the top economic tier through the business deductibility of medical fringe benefits. Therefore, medicine will not become socialized anytime soon.

MYTH 6: “Medicine is an Oversupplied Commodity”

Certain medical specialists are now in slight abundance but this situation will not last for more than the next five-ten years. Medical school admissions are currently up, but will decrease as administration information, and the socialism specter is filtered down to prospective students and the domestic economy improves. Additionally, the population will age and increase utilization rates for the remaining physicians but not reimbursement. More specifically, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and physician’ assistants will not negatively impact us in the long term. These extended care providers do not give the same level of care, nor do they provide the same knowledge and expertise that physicians provide. But, they have been used for more than two decades with positive results that will grow going forward. Moreover, do not confuse physician supply with the “commoditization of medicine”, since no product or service ever need become, or remain, a commodity.

For example, automobile tires have been branded (GoodYear), sneakers have been branded (Nike), microchips and potato chips (Intel-Lays) have all been branded. Water, a classic marketing example, as been re-branded many times in the form of Perrier, Evian, Poland Springs and Calistoga.

Thus, if the marginal benefits of junk food can be branded, the eternal human desire for health and its resulting happiness should not be a hard sell. As doctors and medical professionals, we must strive to promote health, longevity and life as a precious benefit to the public; not simply price.

MGMT. TIP: Either work hard to cultivate fewer, but more lucrative fee-for service patients with true value or service directed activities, or become a discount supplier; but do not attempt to be all things to all people. This mix has never been achieved in corporate America and you will not be the first to achieve it. Rather, chose your niche, be true to your self, and maintain your business strategy. A service mix of 2:1:1 (Discount-Value-Service) among the nation’s primary care providers will not only provide maximum profits for everyone, it will renew a lost sense of personal self-esteem.

“Doctors must create a market driven business strategy. This means to serve and assist the patient in whatever manner possible. HMO’s are absolutely wrong to think of medical care as a commodity–that a doctor is a doctor is a doctor. Patients want a successful treatment outcome, assurance and compassion–and this triad is not provided by commodity suppliers”

Myth 7: “Doctors Will No Longer Keep Patients Waiting”

This is the first true statement in our discussion. The perception that patients have about their medical care is becoming increasingly important. Patient-clients, benefits managers and payers all want prompt service for their employees. If you are not timely now, you are likely inefficient as well as rude. Therefore, scheduling promptness is an important, albeit incorrect, measure of medical quality.

On the other hand, one can hardly argue with any provider who chooses not to wait for habitually late patients who are tardy, impolite, condescending or otherwise inhospitable. A poor demeanor should just not be tolerated by any practitioner. In business verbiage, “the marginal benefit of such patients – do not justify their marginal cost”.

For example, would you rather miss your young son’s theatrical debut awaiting a new fee-for-service patient, or a capitated – or socialized – patient? Again, the prudent human being would choose the former without any real moral dilemma. Bilateral collaborative human respect will always prevail.

MGMT. TIP: Schedule like-patient activities in blocks of time to increase efficiency. Do not be too rigid, but by scheduling similar conditions/procedures together, assembly-line efficiency is achieved without assembly line mentality. Time is then emancipated for more revenue enhancing efforts; or leisure activities. Bundling ‘activity-drivers’ is one of the most efficient methods any organization can use to reduce production time.  It is a concept embraced by producer organizations and deficient in most service organizations.

MYTH 8: HMO’s are the Future of Medical Care in the US?

Highly structured, capitated or full risk HMO’s are already becoming passe’. Their demise will be further accelerated by such growing entities as: Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s), personal Medical or Health Savings Accounts (MSA’s and HSAs) and true Medical Provider Service Networks (MPSN’s). By a true MPSN, we mean a medical care organization, run by physician-managers who contract directly with employers, rather than through an intermediary or middleman who take a percentage of the fee for business services.

Need testimony?  In Minneapolis, a bastion of HMO care, there is an employer initiated drive to contract directly with physician groups, since HMO’s there seem no longer very interested in managing either for patient care or company welfare, but only for their own bottom line dollar.

MGMT TIP: First, get out of medical school, get through your residency and get Board certified as soon as possible. Take advantage of technology to achieve these goals. Then, enroll in law school, business school or take management and computer instruction courses to re-educate, re-engineer and retrain yourself with the needed organizational tools of the future. You will not survive without them because the bar to a new level of medical care has been raised in this decade.

“In the very near future, physicians will learn about business, accept its material risks, regain influence and take back their rightful control of the Healthcare complex.”

Although we still need actuarial and accounting data, working capital, organizational skill, marketing techniques and correct product pricing, we believe physicians, employers and patients of the future will look back on 2010 and recognize it as the turning point in the current healthcare imbroglio. Therefore, be forewarned and forearmed.

Assessment

As medical practitioners and healthcare consultants, we face the same managed are issues as you do. And, although we may have a particular economics acumen and business management expertise, we should never loose sight of the facts that, above all, medical care should be delivered in a personal and humane manner, with patient interest rather than self interest, as our guiding standard.

“Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Geniuses remove it.”
-Alan Perlis
[Creator of ALGOL, an early software programming language].

Conclusion

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Practicing Medicine “Bare”

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Understanding Hold-Harmless Managed Care Contract Clauses

[By Dr. Charles F. Fenton, III; JD]

Most doctors would not think of “practicing medicine bare”; yet perhaps the definition of this term should be re-framed?

Historical Definition

In the past, the term “practicing-bare” meant that a medical provider did not have malpractice insurance.

However, some current managed care contracts require that providers not only have certain limits of malpractice insurance coverage, but also furnish the company with evidence of same. Therefore, some of these providers are under the impression that they are not “practicing-bare.”

Hold Harmless Clauses

Unfortunately, most medical providers have no protection from adverse results arising out of a “Hold-Harmless” clause in a managed care contract or provider-agreement. And, most malpractice insurance companies do not provide such coverage.

So, if your malpractice insurance company does not provide coverage for such events, it is incumbent upon you and your associations to lobby malpractice insurance carriers to provide this coverage.

An additional rider, at an additional premium for Hold-Harmless coverage, would help the doctor sleep better at night.

Contract Considerations

The first question doctors should ask is: Would I consider practicing without malpractice insurance?

If the answer to this question is “no”, then the next question that should be asked is: “Why am I assuming the risk under the Hold Harmless Clause?” 

If you cannot provide a lucent answer to this question (stating: “I have no choice,” is not a lucent answer!), then you should consider not signing the managed care contract.

Judgment Proof

Nonetheless, if a medical provider has signed a managed care contract, then they should understand that they are essentially practicing bare, and should take steps to reduce this exposure. In effect, the provider should attempt to become “judgment-proof.”

Such a step does present its own risks. Ultimately, the first step for every physician who signs a managed care contract, with hold harmless agreement, is to read the contract and then consult an attorney or other professional. Of late, plaintiff-attorneys are beginning to make inroads in suing managed care companies. The managed care attorneys foresaw such events and provided protection for the company in the contracts most providers have signed.

As your patients and other plaintiffs become successful in suing and recovering from managed care companies, those companies are going to seek indemnity from you; the provider. Unless you protect yourself, you are likely to become a collateral casualty to some degree or another.

The current practice of medicine presents may perils and risks to doctors and other providers. A doctor may not be able to insure against all these risks, and should take defensive steps to avoid future problems.

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Conclusion

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Office Appointment “Reservation Fees”

Minimizing the Patient “No-Show” Problem

Staff Writers

In what is perhaps the next evolution of office-based medical practice – at least according to American Medical News reports – some physicians are now making their patient’s reserve office appointment slots with a cash deposit in case of “no-show.”

Much like their plastic surgery, new-wave anti-aging esthetics, cash-only, cosmetic-dental or concierge practice colleagues, these doctors are serving up their healthcare offerings much like a fine restaurant serves its cuisine.

Causation

According to anecdotal research, the average no-show rate for medical practices is about 5 to 10 percent, while the rate can be higher if the office has a larger percentage of new, Medicare. Medicaid, indigent or self-pay patients

Deposits

Physicians who charge de-minimis deposits – ranging from $10 to half an office visit cost – emphasize the primary goal is to cut down missed appointments and increase office efficiency; not generate revenue.  

“This is not like a Blockbuster™ store late-fee, or about making money through cancellation-fees”, according to Executive-Post managing-editor Hope Rachel Hetico, RN, MHA, CMP™ of Atlanta

Results

Of course, cancellation-fees are not new, but are retroactive and may bespeak a “certain perception of avarice” according to Hetico; and are a “pain to collect.” 

But, “appointment reservation-fees” are pro-active, and give the perception of “gravitas and physician-patient collaboration”. 

And, the practice may yield patients who are more faithful about showing up, or at least giving notice if they can’t; while fewer empty slots mean more cash-flow and practice revenue.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts and opinions on this emerging business management practice; legitimate business strategy or bad public relations move? Please comment.

Related Information Sources:

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Medical Building Facility Fees

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Surcharging Startled Patients

[By Staff Writers]skyscraper 

As all print subscribers to Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies], and regular readers of the “Medical Executive-Post” are aware, medical billing is complex enough without throwing another factor into the mix. 

Medical Facility Fees?

Increasingly, however, it seems that patients are being caught off guard by a new “facility fee” for visiting doctors who are based in a hospital-owned building. The issue is not exactly new, but it is expected to become more contentious as patients use high deductibles imposed by consumer directed health care plans [HD-HCPs]; according to a report by FireceHealthcare. 

Those facilities, like Milwaukee’s Froedtert & Community Health who charge the fees, usually post warning signs although their patients often end up arguing with insurance companies over payment.

Making the financial sting even worse, some insurance companies treat the facilities fee at the doctor’s office as the first dollar of what can be a high hospital deductible, rather than applying it to a physician deductible. 

And, the fees vary widely, from a relatively small $20 or $30 to a few hundred dollars.

Assessment

What’s even more insidious is that some hospitals are already charging patients not only for professional medical services, but also a facilities fee for physical use of the building.

Conclusion

This historical review paper provides a retrospective review of IRs and implications for modernity.

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Managed Care Contract De-Selection Risks

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Origins of Medical Practice Patient Flow

[By Dr. Charles F. Fenton III; Esq]

fentonIn the current medical environment a physician’s practice does not consist of a collection of individual patients, or even of the “charts.”  

Rather, a physician’s practice consists of a number of managed care contracts that allows the physician to be a member of a panel and listed in the individual subscriber’s insurance book-of-business.  

Practice Cash Flow 

Today, patients merely flow from managed care contracts. Without managed care contracts, there are few patients and little cash flow. 

Therefore, the physician may face the risk of being de-selected from an individual, or several, managed care panels as contractual issues change, morph or are otherwise altered during each enrollment period. 

Assessment 

Each de-selection will have an adverse effect on the physician’s practice.  In actuality, the revenue lost from de-selection will come disproportionally from the net revenue of the practice.

Often one de-selection will snowball into several de-selections, until the physician barely has a practice remaining. 

Conclusion

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Medical Management Services Organizations

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Understanding MSOs

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dem23 

Most medical practice management services organizations [MSOs] for doctors are organized as IPAs.

Under such plans, doctors make the rules, regulations and medical care guidelines while MSO executives (MBAs, CPAs, CFAs, PhDs and JDs) administer those policies. Centralized data is collected and the organization is responsible for utilization review, quality control, and eligibility verification and payment. 

Definition 

The MSO is more of a broker, who works for the physicians in the plan, marketing, selling and running it on a daily basis. This leaves the MD’s unfettered to provide patient care; for a price that is typically 10-18% of net patient revenues, per month. 

Practitioner Candidates? 

A medical practitioner may be a candidate for a MSO organization if s/he possesses most of the following characteristics: 

  • excellent medical education,
  • good business background,
  • honed management and leadership skills,
  • practices in a large multi-doctor group with rising net income,
  • uses current HIT systems,
  • has gross margins exceeding fifty percent,
  • provides ancillary services such as a wound care or ambulatory surgery center,
  • is under 45 years of age, and;
  • desirous of practicing medicine in the future.  

Assessment 

Finally, the provider should have some business savvy and practice in an area with relatively weak MCO market penetration.  

Any provider should also consider joining a MSO if his future professional outlook is optimistic and positive.

Conclusion

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