Medical Societies Mull Own Health-Care Plans

Article excerpt

Thirty-eight of this country's 50 state medical societies are either considering the setup of a managed-care network sponsored by physicians or are in some stage of developing one, a new survey says.

Towers Perrin Integrated HealthSystems Consulting, which advises hospitals, insurers and others in the health-care industry, conducted the national survey.

"Physicians have always known that they are the critical ingredient to managing health-care quality and cost," said Howard Wizig of the firm's Kansas City office.

"Many physicians realize that by sponsoring their own health plans, they can have a greater measure of control over both the delivery and financing of health care," he said. "As a result, physicians are increasingly turning to their state medical societies to help them build managed-care organizations."

The movement toward physician organizations springs in part from the growing influence of health insurers, who pay the bills, on medical decision-making. Insurers' rules, for example, can affect the length of a hospital stay or treatment options.

Doctors are trying to preserve their independence and control, said Jim Drennan, a principal in the St. Louis office of Integrated HealthSystems Consulting. …