Anthem Doctors Slow to Re-Sign for Insurance Plan

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COLUMBIA - Represetatives with the Missouri Medical Affiliates said Thursday they still have around 40 doctors who do not plan to re-sign with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield following months of negotiation over physician reimbursements.

These two organizations have been in a back and forth discussion of reimbursement rates for doctors since last October. 

Physicians were offered the opportunity to re-sign with Anthem on an individual basis, rather than as a group with the same terms. 

August 26 marked the deadline for doctors to sign up, and Monday, Anthem released a list of doctors who had opted to re-sign. 

According to Anthem, only 20 out of 120 MMA doctors re-signed. However, MMA representative Rick Roys said his company's count from earlier this week had about 40 doctors still un-signed. 

Anthem representative Deb Wiethop said physicians have been more vocal than consumers, although patients are taking notice. 

"Some of our members would like to see their physician in the network. Something that we have communicated is that the physcians not in our network, we are still willing to talk to them, they can still get in the network. If they're interested they should reach out to us," Wiethop said.

In the meantime, doctors who have not re-signed are not satisfied with offers from Anthem. 

According to Rick Royer, MMA contract specialist, letters to re-sign individually went out to physicians in June after "Blue Cross decided they were finished making offers to the group and said this is it, take it or leave it." 

About two-thirds of MMA doctors re-signed for a multitude of reasons, despite recommendation from MMA. 

"We've pointed out to the members that MMA rejected the Blue Cross offers as being completely inadequate, as not keeping up with cost of living or cost of doing business in the doctors office and are well well behind what other insureres reimburse the doctors at," Royer said. 

But he went on to describe the plight that faces many doctors and consumers, as out of network physicians will try to negotiate costs with their patients, some who have been seeing their same doctor for upwards of 40 years. 

So while Anthem is willing to continue re-signing, doctors and patients are faced with a more pressing choice, now that negotiations have ended, and the impact of Anthem care is wide-ranging. 

"Anthem is the largest single carrier in Boone County. They range in 10-30 percent of doctors commercial business. They're significant," Royer said.