The federal Medicare program will test lump-sum payments, known as "bundled payments," in certain markets, and probably wouldn't adopt them more broadly for years. But Chicago hospitals need to hurry: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois aims to roll out bundled payments in contracts with some hospital systems and physician groups starting next year.For patients who present with more than one medical problem at a time, please be kind enough to notify your doctor which payment bundle you'd like them to address, since only one payment per patient per episode of care will be permitted.
The city's dominant insurance carrier expects that by the end of 2011, 10% of its membership will be covered by contracts that pay providers on an episode-of-care basis, says Steve Hamman, the insurer's vice-president of network management. UnitedHealth Group Inc., the No. 2 insurer in Chicago, also plans to test bundled-payment here and elsewhere, Chief Medical Officer Sam Ho says.