The nation’s second-largest health insurer is shaking up its approach to paying doctors, putting a major investment behind the idea that spending more for better primary care can save money down the road.
Starting this summer, WellPoint Inc., which insures some 34 million Americans, will offer primary-care doctors a fee increase, typically of around 10%, with the possibility of additional payments that could boost what they get for treating the patients it covers by as much as 50%.
Wellpoint said Friday it will increase the fees it pays to doctor practices, and it will start paying for services like preparing care plans for patients with complex medical problems. It also will offer doctors an opportunity to share in some savings when better patient care leads to a reduction in costs.
WellPoint said it wants to give doctors a chance to do more for patients outside of episodic care, or just treating people when they become sick. That means, for example, working with overweight people who have diabetes to develop an exercise plan and then making sure they stay on it.
Source: Associated Press, January 27, 2012.