Making Money in Primary Care
Imagine my excitement when I read the following headline of a post by Shadowfax:
Turns out that the Cleveland Clinic pays primary care really well. How? Like many other large multispecialty groups, primary care is considered a loss leader. That is, primary care physicians get paid more than they generate for the practice directly, in recognition of the income produced by their referrals to the group's specialists and ancillaries.
Yawn. Old news.
So what if someone either doesn't want to work in a large group practice, or if one wishes to live in an area devoid of such an organization? How might this work?
Say specialists agree to supplement the income of referring primaries from their inflated receipts of the RBRVS, in recognition and appreciation for the work sent to them. Wait, I think there might be a name for this kind of arrangement. Oh yeah; it's called a "kickback." In fact, I'm pretty sure it's illegal (for doctors, that is. It's standard procedure for lawyers.)
How about ancillary facilities like labs and freestanding radiology centers helping to compensate primary care docs for all the lucrative business they refer? Wait; wasn't there a guy in Washington who didn't like the sound of that? Pete Somebody? Didn't they promulgate not one (I), not two (II), but THREE (Stark III) sets of regulations that basically prohibit that kind of monetary transfer?
Yes. Why yes, they did.
So with apologies to Shadowfax, it turns out that the only way to make money in primary care with the current payment structure is to cast my lot in with generous, far-sighted specialists who recognize my worth. Too bad no one else does.