According to a Journal of Oncology Practice report, an experimental payment method directed by insurer UnitedHealthcare and employed at Fort Worth’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, among other facilities, has reduced the total cost of cancer treatment in its participating oncology programs by more than a third.
The pilot was launched in October 2009 in collaboration with five medical oncology practices around the nation, including the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. 810 breast, lung, and colon cancer patients were treated under the new payment model, which, as of December 2012, demonstrated net savings exceeding $33 million when compared to anticipated costs. These savings allow the insurer to offer lower premiums.
The new physician-payment model, as Modern Healthcare reports, is based on episodes of best practices and patient outcomes and reimburses physicians with fixed prices. It stands in contrast to the widely used fee-for-service model that Dr. Lee Newcomer, senior vice president of oncology at UnitedHealthcare, described as “a failing way to pay physicians.”
Dr. Newcomer plans to triple the size of the program next year, and all five original oncology practices will continue to participate.