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New Insurer Payment Method Tries To Close Health Gaps And Save Money09:29Download

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(Gerald Herbert/AP)

A new study from Harvard Medical School finds that the "alternative quality contract," a new way to pay for health care developed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, is helping keep health costs down while also making people healthier, especially for the most vulnerable patients.

Michael Chernew, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, explained the difference between that model and the traditional "fee-for-service" model.

"It lowers spending, improves quality, and in fact improved quality a little bit more for the people who were most disadvantaged," Chernew said.

It's that last part that has Chernew most excited. There's long been a concern that changing the way doctors are paid might inadvertently backfire on the poorest patients. Chernew's study followed 299,000 Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield members who live in poorer neighborhoods, and about 245,000 members from more affluent neighborhoods.

They found that everyone got greater access to preventive care, but the gains were bigger for poorer patients. More checkups, more screenings, more blood tests.

Guest

Michael Chernew, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, which tweets @harvardmed.

This segment aired on January 10, 2017.

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