The Federal Trade Commission has given the go-ahead to a survey of physicians' contractual relationships with insurers, according to an FTC advisory letter dated Nov. 3.
The Medical Group Management Association, Englewood, Colo., sought the advisory opinion for a survey that will ask doctors how much health plans pay for physician services, among other contractual issues.
"It does not appear likely that the publication of the survey results, in the manner described in your letters, will prompt coordinated anticompetitive behavior by physicians," says the FTC opinion, signed by Jeffrey Brennan, assistant director of the health services and products division of the FTC Bureau of Competition. "Accordingly, the Commission staff has no intention to recommend law enforcement action regarding the proposed conduct."
The six-page letter says that because MGMA will publish the information on an aggregated basis only and will not identify information about individual payers, "there does not appear to be ground for concern that the information would facilitate physicians' collective refusal to deal with any particular payer."
The survey will ask medical groups about their overall satisfaction with payers' contract performance and also will seek information regarding:
- Percentage of commercial fee-for-service payers maintain an adequate network of specialists.
- Percentage of commercial fee-for-service claims that are denied.
- Percentage of claims that are paid within certain time periods (30 to 75days) after submission.
- Satisfaction with payers' responsiveness to concerns regarding claims.
The first phase of the survey, to begin in January 2004, will include a pilot group of primary care physicians in Colorado, Stech says, with information gathered from members of MGMA and the Colorado State Medical Association. The results will be made available for sale a minimum of 90 days after the information is collected, according to requirements of the FTC guidance, Stech says.