Primary care practices could take $15B hit this year due to COVID-19

Ayla Ellison (Twitter) - Print  | 

U.S. primary care practices are projected to lose up to $15.1 billion, or $67,774 per full-time physician, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in Health Affairs

The researchers said the average revenue loss would go up if shelter-in-place policies are again instituted in November and December. In that scenario, the revenue loss for this year would rise to $85,666 per full-time primary care physician. 

Medicare and commercial insurance companies have been reimbursing physician practices at higher rates for telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. If those rates revert back to pre-COVID-19 levels starting in October, primary care practices can expect to take an additional financial hit of $173,453 in 2020, according to the study. 

"Our results ultimately highlight vulnerability of primary care practices to financial demise due to fee-for-service and visit-based payment policies, indicating that capitation-based payment reforms may be key to ensuring robustness of primary care into the future," the authors of the study wrote. "Relatively small capitated payments from payers, employers or government could be used to mitigate losses and to keep practices from closing." 

Read the study here

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