MANAGED CARE: HMO-Free Doctors Contend with Risks, Rewards
A handful of doctors, frustrated by managed care's restrictions, are striking out on their own, risking decreased income and fewer patients to free themselves of HMO contracts, a USA Today cover story reports. Doctors who sever ties with HMOs will almost invariably see "their incomes dip," but some contend that the decrease in managed care-related paperwork makes up for the loss. "After I dropped managed care, I had a whole new feeling when I walked into the office in the morning," says Dr. Lisa Underwood, a Las Vegas gynecologist. Proponents of managed care point out that doctors who reject the system must focus on affluent patients, or those with traditional health insurance, such as Medicare. "If every doctor in the country did it, it would almost be a socially irresponsible act," said Steve McDermott, executive director of the Hill Physicians Medical Group, a Northern California IPA. And supporters of managed care note that the health care industry has "succeeded by limiting unneeded expenses and treatments" -- a result that Dr. James Selevan, executive president of Orange County, California-based IPA Monarch HealthCare, contends has contributed to the decade's economic boom. However, one doctor who has turned his back on managed care, replied, "If the population was healthy, well cared for, wouldn't that also help the economy?" (Appleby, 5/18).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.