Blue Cross’ Decision to Offer Doctors Bonuses for Quality of Care May ‘Shake Up’ Industry, Times Says
Addressing Blue Cross of California's decision to offer bonuses to doctors based on patient satisfaction rather than cutting costs, a Los Angeles Times editorial states, "When it's news that a health care provider rediscovers that its first responsibility is patients' welfare, that shows just how far off course the practice of medicine has been dragged." Blue Cross will "reward physician groups that stress ... preventive measures" and will "regularly survey" patients on the quality of care that they receive, the editorial notes. The editorial adds that the "test" of Blue Cross' new plan "will be in the experience of patients and doctors and what happens with health care premiums." According to the editorial, "If the quality of care improves, if doctors' frustrations with the bureaucratic impediments they so often face in practicing medicine decline, if better care does not lead to runaway premiums, Blue Cross will have shaken up an industry sorely in need of reform" (Los Angeles Times, 7/11).
Meanwhile, a Santa Rosa Press-Democrat editorial says that with the days of allowing "Cadillac treatment for Pinto problems ... long gone," Blue Cross "should be applauded" for adopting a system that rewards doctors for patient satisfaction. The editorial points out that the plan will help "keep good doctors in practice" and allow the insurer to "argue that their first consideration is patient care." Although the system is not a "cure-all" for the managed care industry's problems, which include low reimbursement rates for doctors, the editorial concludes, "Blue Cross' recognition that quality counts is an important step" (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 7/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.