Should physicians be paid for performance?


Controlling health care costs is, like baseball, a game of inches. If doctors can tackle a problem that can be inexpensive to fix, such as helping a patient lose weight, they may avoid more serious and costly problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Increasingly, they are being rewarded for such behavior by insurance companies and the federal government.

According to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the lobbying arm of the health insurance industry, these P4P (pay for performance) incentives are for a range of practices such as prescribing less costly generic medication instead of name brand drugs, utilizing technology effectively and maintaining a high level of patient satisfaction. Insurance companies are keen on P4P.
"These programs offer financial incentives and support to physician groups -- and, in some cases, to individual primary care physicians and specialists -- for meeting or exceeding absolute performance standards, for being top performers compared with peers and for making improvements over time," according to the AHIP.