Way back in February, I wrote a series of posts about the Anthem Insurance versus Premier Health issue. Briefly, Anthem is this area’s largest health insurer, while Premier encompasses the most actual healthcare providers. Their contract expired, and as a result, folks covered by Anthem who see Premier docs and use Premier facilities must pay a much higher rate for services provided.
At the time, I predicted that “more and more folks (will) have to switch docs, leaving Premier’s physicians with a shrinking customer base.”
Well, lo and behold, this week’s issue of the Dayton Business Journal brings us this news: “Five months after Anthem coverage ended, Premier-owned physician practices are feeling the squeeze. Doctors are expected to lose 10 percent of their salaries this year as patients go to other doctors who take Anthem or delay appointments, which can complicate patient care. Doctors across the group are opening to new patients, some for the first time in years.”
Business is apparently so bad that at least one Premier provider, Premier HealthNet (a group of primary care docs) is offering a discount of up to 30% for their Anthem patients, to help cushion the blow.
I had observed at the time that, while the two Premier hospitals could probably weather the storm, I had my doubts that the physicians, with much shallower pockets, could bear the long-term brunt of this painful situation.
On the bright side, I must applaud Premier for taking the unusual step of contacting their Anthem patients, encouraging them to urge their employers to switch to a carrier that included Premier. I can report, though, that I have yet to be called by any Anthem clients who wish to change carriers due to this circumstance. And I haven’t heard from any colleagues that they’d been asked, either.
But as always, the big loser is the patient. As one Premier doctor observes, “Healthy patients can transfer to another doctor with little problem. But the chronically ill, elderly or mentally impaired suffer most.”