Aetna U.S. Healthcare will unveil a new program this week to pay doctors who file claims electronically within 15 business days.
By paying these doctors faster, Aetna expects to win their allegiance and simultaneously reduce its own processing costs.
The program positions Aetna in stark contrast to the practices of other HMOs, most notably Oxford Health Plans, which has been accused of lengthy payment delays to physicians, particularly those in New York.
Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna will debut the program, called E-pay, next month in New Jersey and this fall in metropolitan New York. It plans to have the program in place nationwide by the end of 1999.
Oxford, the largest HMO in New York, became notorious for late payments to providers. Last summer, as part of an agreement with state Attorney General Dennis Vacco, the Norwalk, Conn.-based HMO guaranteed providers it would pay interest on claims not paid within 30 days.
But many doctors weren't satisfied. On behalf of its 5,000 physician members, the New York Medical Society filed for arbitration proceedings with the state insurance department in Feburary. Doctors alleged Oxford owed them $140 million, a figure the insurer disputed. The case is pending.
Separately, Oxford announced last week that it had hired Yon Yoon Jorden, 43, as executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective June 22. Jorden spent more than six years as an executive at WellPoint Health Networks and Blue Cross of California.