Important Changes that will Affect Physicians’ Income in 2015

Several changes are scheduled for the healthcare industry in 2015. These developments will have an impact on most of the medical practices, affecting the physicians’ incomes in varying degrees. Here are some of the important changes that practices will have to master to succeed in the coming year.

1. Implementation of ICD-10

According to the industry experts, physicians shouldn’t expect yet another delay in the implementation of ICD-10. The deadline will not change and therefore, practices need to be prepared to live with the new coding system on October 01, 2015.

  • A Medical Group Management Survey in 2014 stated that 79% of practices were unprepared to start the implementation procedure

Whether or not a practice is prepared for ICD-10, the new coding system will cost providers a considerable amount of money. It has been estimated by the American Medical Association that small practices will have to spend anywhere between $22,560 and $105,506.

2. The rise in High Deductibles

According to a 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation study, physicians will have to face high deductibles of $1,000 or more in 2015. People are drawing towards high deductible plans due to low premiums. When patients come in for care with high deductibles, practices face a huge risk of not getting paid. In order to obtain the payment, doctors’ offices have to spend a considerable amount of resources behind collectibles.

3. Reduction in Malpractice Premiums

Malpractice premiums will continue to drop in 2015. For instance, premiums for three specialties including, general surgeons, internists, and OB / GYN reduced in 2014. These specialties have been experiencing a 13% decline in its premiums since 2008.

4. Competition from Telemedicine Companies

Telemedicine companies are growing in number, raising great concerns for the physicians. It is being estimated that the popularity of these companies will increase to a great extent in 2015. Telemedicine companies seem to be taking patients away from physicians’ practices. The patients are likely to get more attracted to telemedicine because it offers immediate services to them in the comfort of their house. Compared to seeing a doctor, telemedicine sessions cost less.

5. Medicaid Payment Issues for Primary Care Practitioners

Primary care physicians (PCP) will not have a good start to 2015. Enhanced Medicaid payments that brought their reimbursement up to Medicare levels will stop. Their payment will fall back to the old level. Only a few states will continue to provide enhanced Medicaid payments to PCPs from their own funds. At a time when six million people have been added to the Medicaid program, lack of enhanced payment will be a blow to PCPs.

6. Penalties under the Physician Quality Reporting System

Similar to the Meaningful Use Program, penalties for not adhering to Medicare’s PQRS will start in 2015. Based on the 2013 reporting, the penalty for not reporting PQRS data will start at 1.5% from 2015. Based on the 2014 reporting, this penalty will increase to 2% in 2016.

7. Changes for Accountable Care Organizations

In 2015, the three-year shared-savings contracts that protected Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) from losing money will start running out. If ACOs continue to stay in the program they might have to face huge penalties.

Safeguard yourself from these seven important changes in 2015 by taking note of them beforehand and be rest assured of a profitable, easily manageable and a successfully running medical practice.