Can You Survive? Penalties of not Participating in Meaningful Use
There are incentives to participating in MU as many physicians are aware. There are also penalties for not participating as well. The question is “Can you afford the long term penalties and continue to sustain a successful practice?” This is an eight sided coin problem, as one of my mentors used to tell me, which means you can look at this from two different angles and still have six others that have not crossed your mind.
It’s not as simple as if you don’t participate then you don’t receive incentive dollars and will receive a penalty. It is much more complex, let’s look at this and break down just based on the simplicity of not performing MU with a certified EHR and how the penalties will affect you and your practice. Physicians who have not adopted or refuse to use a certified EHR/EMR system by the deadline in 2015, can expect to see a reduction in Medicare reimbursement by 1%. That increases in the following years by an additional 1%.
So you’re looking at a possible total of 5% Medicare reduction in reimbursement over the next 5 years.
- 2015 – 1%
- 2016 – 2%
- 2017 – 3%
- 2018 – 4%
- 2019 – 5%
How does that affect your practice? According to many surveys an average Family Practice physician in private practice will have an annual income of $500,000 and is reimbursed 20% by Medicare.
The penalties above would have an overall effect of a reduction in annual income in the amount of:
- 2015 – $1,000
- 2016 – $2,000
- 2017 – $3,000
- 2018 – $4,000
- 2019 – $5,000
Not a huge amount of money right off the top. The loss of income doesn’t stop there. You will lose referrals since you do not have an EHR and the other physicians in your area are using a certified EHR and trying to gain the incentive dollars, so they are sending those referrals to other certified EHR users. You will possibly lose patients to another office, many people these days prefer technology and the ability to have information electronically. That’s just one little piece of the big EHR puzzle.
You could experience a loss of employees. Many of today’s workforce personnel are skilled in the use of computers and like to work with various software programs that provide efficiencies in the workday. And you could lose them since you won’t be able to give them an annual 3-5% pay raise. The biggest and most freighting aspect of all of this is what law makers will do in the future to impose even more penalties; the great unknown.
You can always gamble on the future and much like in any game of chance in a casino, It’s not a question of how much you win or lose. The question is how much can you afford to lose?