I came across this snippet the other day: WellPoint, Inc. unit Blue Cross of California will stop using “burdensome confidentiality agreements” in provider contract negotiations, according to an agreement with the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). The department found that the practice was “illegal because it limits and conditions the selection and use of a provider’s legal counsel in negotiations of new contracts.” The department said it would have ordered California Blue Cross to stop requiring the confidentiality agreement if the plan had not voluntarily complied. DMHC made its decision after learning that the insurer threatened not to contract with providers for two years if they refused to sign its agreement.
‘Burdensome’? The two-year threat aside, these agreements are so much more than that, and it’s not just WellPoint that is using them. In many instances, the terms of such agreements preclude physicians from even acknowledging that they have a negotiated deal with an insurer. What that means is that many physicians have been kept in the dark not knowing it was even possible to negotiate rates and contract terms. Now that word has been getting out, the insurance companies are engaging in ever-more serious threats and punishments. For more on this type of thing, see Fight Club (UHC and the Land of Make Believe) and You Can Negotiate