Sobering advice for physicians inclined to launch their own health plan

LETTER — Posted July 4, 2005

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Regarding "Doctors start 2 Medicare health plans" (Article, May 9): Physicians feel they should be able to understand all phases of health care delivery by virtue of their intelligence and medical degree. Look out.

Unless you have a very tight and savvy group of doctors, the search for freedom from control may become a search for well-meaning empowerment to provide unrestricted services to their patients.

Incurred but not reported medical costs can accumulate rapidly and silently. With only a bare-bones staff, a plan can get blindsided -- especially with a loose or nonexistent precert program in place.

Get as many experienced businesspersons as you can on your board. You don't know as much as you think about how to run a company.

Lastly, and sadly, spend twice as much time discussing how to handle possible losses as you spend on trying to divide profits.

Rosario Romano, MD, Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/07/04/edlt0704.htm.

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