Insurers test cancer pay systems

The New York Times, October 20, 2010

The insurers have begun tightening oversight of the care provided to patients with many different types of cancer, hoping to lower expenses by experimenting with new ways to pay specialists.

UnitedHealthcare plans to announce on Wednesday a one-year project with five oncology practices, offering doctors an additional fee. The new fee is meant to encourage doctors to follow standard treatments rather than opting too often for individualized and unproven courses of therapy, which can include the most expensive drug combinations. By proposing a different type of payment structure, companies hope to lower doctors’ dependence on a system that generates substantial sums for cancer specialists who routinely favor top-of-the line treatments.

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