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Understanding MCO-Medical Practice Contract Standards

The Conversion to Negotiated Managed Healthcare is Significant

Dr. David Edward Marcinko, MBA CMP™

Prof. Hope Rachel Hetico, RN MHA CPHQ CMP™

www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

The conversion to managed healthcare and capitation financing is a significant marketing force and not merely a temporary business trend. More than 60% of all physicians in the country are now employees of a MCO. Those that embrace these forces will thrive, while those opposed will not.

Developing an Attractive Practice

After you have evaluated the HMOs in your geographic area, you must then make your practice more attractive to them, since there are far too many physicians in most regions today. The following issues are considered by most MCO financial managers and business experts, as they decide whether or not to include you in their network:

General Standards

  • Is there a local or community need for your practice, with a sound patient base that is not too small or large? Remember, practices that already have a significant number of patients have some form of leverage since MCOs know that patients do not like switching their primary care doctors or pediatricians, and women do not want to be forced to change their OB/GYN specialist. If the group leaves the plan, members may complain to their employers and give a negative impression of the plan.
  • A positive return on investment (ROI) from your economically sound practice is important to MCOs because they wish to continue their relationship with you. Often, this means it is difficult for younger practitioners to enter a plan, since plan actuaries realize that there is a high attrition rate among new practitioners. They also realize that more established practices have high overhead costs and may tend to enter into less lucrative contract offerings just to pay the bills.
  • A merger or acquisition is a strategy for the MCO internal business plan that affords a seamless union should a practice decide to sell out or consolidate at a later date. Therefore, a strategy should include things such as: strong managerial and cost accounting principles, a group identity rather than individual mindset, profitability, transferable systems and processes, a corporate form of business, and a vertically integrated organization if the practice is a multi-specialty group.
  • Human resources, capital, and IT service should complement the existing management information system (MIS) framework. This is often difficult for the solo or small group practice and may indicate the need to consolidate with similar groups to achieve needed economies of scale and capital, especially in areas of high MCO penetration.
  • Consolidated financial statements should conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and other appraisal standards.
  • Strong and respected MD leadership in the medical and business community is an asset. MCOs prefer to deal with physician executives with advanced degrees. You may not need a MBA or CPA, but you should be familiar with basic business, managerial, and financial principles. This includes a conceptual understanding of horizontal and vertical integration, cost principles, cost volume analysis, financial ratio analysis, and cost behavior.
  • The doctors on staff should be willing to treat all conditions and types of patients. The adage “more risk equates to more reward” is still applicable and most groups should take all the full risk contracting they can handle, providing they are not pooled contracts.
  • Are you a team player or solo act? The former personality type might do better in a group or MCO-driven practice, while a fee-for-service market is still possible and may be better suited to the latter personality type.
  • Each member of a physician group, or a solo doctor, should have a valid license, DEA narcotics license, continuing medical education, adequate malpractice insurance, board qualification or certification, hospital privileges, agree with the managed care philosophy, and have partners in a group practice that meet all the same participation criteria. Be available for periodic MCO review by a company representative.

Specific Medical Office Standards

MCOs may require that the following standards are maintained in the medical office setting:

  • It is clean and presentable with a professional appearance.
  • It is readily accessible and has a barrier-free design (see OSHA requirements).
  • There is appropriate medical emergency and resuscitation equipment.
  • The waiting room can accommodate 5 – 7 patients with private changing areas.
  • There is an adequate capacity (e.g., 5,000 – 10,000 member minimum), business plan, and office assistants for the plan.
  • There is an office hour minimum (e.g., 20 hours/week).
  • 24/7 on-call coverage is available, with electronic tracking and eMRs.
  • There are MCO-approved sub-contractors.

Assessment

What have we missed?

Front Matter Link: Front Matter BoMP – 3

 

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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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

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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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On Physician Bonuses

Money and Incentive Pools 

By Brent A. Metfessel; MD, MSbiz-book

Some Managed Care Organizations [MCOs] use medical provider profiles to allocate funds to the top-performing physicians. The MCO may give additional bonuses or preferential allocation of incentive pool funds to providers that perform well on particular cost-effectiveness and quality indices. 

Incentive Pools

Incentive pools are often built based on a certain percentage or “withhold” of dollars that are taken from the providers’ usual reimbursement and placed in a pool.  Top performers would be allocated the greatest percentage.

Example:

One mid-sized health plan in the Southeast paid a 20% bonus to providers with a case-mix adjusted performance ratio (actual/expected cost) of less than 1.3. Although such allocation schemes might incent providers to practice efficiently and with high quality, the MCO should attempt provider education as to the most appropriate practice patterns for the first one to two years after new profiles are introduced. This education should occur prior to introducing monetary incentives, since otherwise the relationship between providers and MCOs may ultimately become strained. 

Assessment

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Unfortunately, money can become a major point of contention between providers and between providers and the health plan.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. How do your bonus pools work; or should work? 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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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!

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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 Need to Protect Accounts Receivable [ARs]

Understanding Liability and Stewardship Issues

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™

HOFMSAll hospitals, clinics, healthcare entities and doctors are aware that accounts receivable (ARs) represent money that is owed to them, usually by a patient, insurance company, health maintenance organization (HMO), Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payer. In the reimbursement climate that exists today, it is not unusual for ARs to represent 75% of a hospital’s investments in current assets. ARs are a major source of cash flow, and cash flow is the life-blood of any healthcare entity. It pays bills, meets office payroll, and satisfies operational obligations.

Medical ARS are Different

A feature of ARs in healthcare organizations that differentiates them from ARs in other types of business is that they are often settled for less than the billed amounts. These allowances include four categories that are used to restate ARs to realizable expected values:

  • professional or courtesy allowances;
  • charity (pro bono care) allowances;
  • doubtful account allowances; and
  • HMO and managed care organization (MCO) contractual and prospective payment allowances.

AR Stewardship Issues

Good stewardship of assets requires that one must be concerned not only with significant economic losses due to professional conduct (professional malpractice liability concerns, and issues raised by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and so on); but that of physician partner(s) and even the financial failure of contracted private insurers, payers, MCOs, HMOs, etc. ARs are often the biggest asset to protect against creditors or adverse legal judgments. It is not unusual to have ARs in the range of a hundred thousand dollars for a group practice or medical clinic; and in the millions of dollars for a hospital. Yet, since they can easily be attached, ARs are known as exposed assets to creditors.

Assessment

A judgment creditor pursuing a doctor for a claim may pursue the assets of the clinic, and ARs and cash are the most vulnerable assets. ARs are as good as cash to a creditor, who usually has to do no more than seize them and wait a few months to collect them. If a creditor seizes ARs, the clinic or health entity may be hard pressed to pay its bills as they become due. One must therefore be vigilant to protect AR assets from lawsuit creditors.

More: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Conclusion

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Proactive Medical Accounts Receivable Monitoring

Forewarned is Forearmed

Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

All hospitals, medical clinics, healthcare entities, and doctors are aware that accounts receivable (ARs) represent money that is owed to them, usually by a patient, insurance company, health maintenance organization (HMO), Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payor. In the reimbursement climate that exists today, it is not unusual for ARs to represent 75% of a hospital’s investments in current assets. And, a medical practice may have ARs in the range of several hundred thousand dollars. ARs are a major source of cash flow, and cash flow is the life-blood of any healthcare entity. It pays bills, meets office payroll, and satisfies operational obligations.

Avoidance Management

The best way to manage AR problems is to avoid them in the first place by implementing a good system of AR control. Answering the following questions may help upgrade a system of AR control:

  • Is an AR policy in place for the collection of self-pay accounts (de minimus and maximus amounts, annual percentage rate (APR), terms, penalties, etc.)?
  • Do employees receive proper AR, bad debt, and follow-up training within legal guidelines?
  • Are AR exceptions approved by the doctor, office manager, or accounting department, or require individual scrutiny?
  • Are AR policies in place for dealing with hardship cases, pro bono work, co-pay waivers, discounts, or no-charges?
  • Are collection procedures within legal guidelines?
  • Are AR policies in place for dealing with past due notices, telephone calls, dunning messages, collection agencies, small claims court, and other collection methods?
  • Are guidelines in place for handling hospital, clinic, or medical practice consultations, unpaid claims, refilling of claims, and appealing claims?
  • Are office AR policies periodically revised and reviewed, with employee input?
  • Does the doctor, hospital, or clinic agree with and support the guidelines?

Assessment

It is  typical that poor control occurs because the doctor and/or hospital is too busy treating patients, or the front office or administrative staff does not have, or follow a good system of AR control.

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.combiz-book1

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.

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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