BCBS of Massachusetts to pay physicians more for closing racial health gaps

In an effort to reduce racial health disparities, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is providing financial incentives for physicians who work to close health gaps.

The move comes after Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts released a health equity report that found Asian, Black and Brown patients receive lower-quality care than their white counterparts, according to the Boston Globe

"Like many others, we had an awakening after the George Floyd murder and the COVID pandemic, and the way that more deeply exposed racism and disparities in healthcare," said Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. "We had to start by looking at the health of our own members, which is not something we had done in a systematic way before."

The monetary incentive applies to physicians who care for the insurer's 2.1 million members throughout the state, but the logistics are still being developed.

The plan is questionable to some local provider partners, who say paying physicians more won't eliminate the multi-layered inequity patients of color face, according to the Boston Globe.

"It's not a bad idea to incent the physicians, but I'm not sure that it's necessarily going to be the most powerful place for us to work on disparities,” said Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, chief of internal medicine and adult primary care at Tufts Medical Center. "When we look at our patients, the reason that they're not getting care oftentimes is because it's too expensive to do so, or they can't take time off work."

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