Home > Medical Provider Network > On Setting Up an Medical Provider Network (an Attorney’s Perspective)

On Setting Up an Medical Provider Network (an Attorney’s Perspective)

Mark Walls, manager of the Work Comp Analysis Group on LinkedIn, has an interesting article out about the pros and cons of medical provider networks.  The MPN is a subject oft-touched on by your humble blogger, and generally in a fairly approving tone, as it can be a very effective tool to cut costs.  However, as Mr. Walls points out, there are dangers to a creeping increase in costs.

Often the story begins with a pitch.  A slick, sharply dressed salesman or woman from an MPN will make a presentation about all the money that can be saved by switching to his or her MPN.  The doctors are great, efficient, and honest – they will not let sympathy or prejudice influence their medical opinions.  The MPN cuts costs like a civil war surgeon, hacking and slashing.  And how is this possible, the pitch continues… because the volume of “patients” allows less to be charged for each visit, treatment, etc.  So everybody wins!  The employee gets fast, effective treatment and the insurance company or self-insured employer gets a smaller bill.

But there are other costs that need to be weighed.  Mr. Walls points out that some MPNs tend to increase the frequency of visits, trying to make their money back in a different type of volume of business.  But there is another, larger cost as well.  Litigation.

As pointed on this blog again and again, the MPN must be done right, or not at all.  If the MPN is not properly set up and properly defended, then the applicant will run up a medical bill outside of the network and the defense will be end up writing larger and larger checks.  The MPN must include enough treating physicians of every type in every area an employee is likely to be (this includes chiropractors, unfortunately.)

The MPN must also have proper notices to the employee – multiple languages, regular updates, notice at hiring, injury, etc.  If your MPN salesman doesn’t know these rules or can’t detail how the MPN will provide these services, then perhaps more investigation is necessary.

Here is a suggestion – whether you have in-house workers’ compensation counsel, a panel of defense attorneys to pick from, or an outside firm that handles all your workers’ compensation matters, pick a veteran attorney who knows MPNs through and through, and have him or her sit in on the sales pitch, taking notes and asking questions.  After all, the odds are high that two years down the line, this lawyer will be fighting off non-MPN lien claimants or driving back the applicant’s attorney insisting that a shoulder surgeon in Washington is reasonable for an employee living in San Francisco.

Time and again, the lien claimants and the applicant’s attorney have tried to knock the MPN wall down, and with a few exceptions, it stands still (at least in California).  I would say it’s absolutely worth having an MPN if you can have one set up, I would just suggest having a workers’ compensation defense attorney you trust help from the start.

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