Coming to terms with consumer-driven health plans

While consumer-driven health plans are barreling down on providers like a freight train, many physicians have tried to tune them out. In fact, according to one recent survey, less than half of physicians said they felt ready to discuss medical budgets with patients, and 43 percent said they had little knowledge of how consumer-driven health plans work. This level of ignorance isn't going to cut it much longer, however. For one thing, it will cost your practice big bucks if you don't know how to work with self-pay patients, not to mention alienating patients who need guidance in using such plans. So CDHPs should be a hot topic at this year's show, even for doctors who've been avoiding the subject to date. Like it or not, these plans are just a fact of life now.

Luckily, at this year's conference, physicians should have a chance to close this knowledge gap. For example, if you're eager to understand CDHPs, you'll want to check out "Consumer-Driven Care - Who's REALLY in Charge?" (CON 414, Monday October 20). In this session, you'll get a feel for the impact these plans will have on your receivables, systems and patient behavior. This session will also offer pointers on how to develop office policies and procedures for dealing with CDHP-insured patients, a step that can help your practice cope with the unique financial challenges involved with managing these relationships.

Meanwhile, don't miss the chance to swap advice and tips on high-deductible plans with your colleagues. After all, CDHPs put new pressures on your practice--particularly as a collector of large sums of cash from patients rather than insurers--and this kind of cultural shift will take all the ingenuity and insight you can find. Getting a handle on this issue now could save you enormous headaches later.

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