We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the AHS temporary Alternative Relationship Plan (ARP) related to COVID-19 redeployment work. AHS refers to these ARPs as “Temporary Optional Payment Structure for COVID-19 Redeployment.” In this post, we review the details of the offered ARP and details physicians should consider when choosing to join the ARP.
You can also read the AHS Q&A on the ARP here.
What is the COVID-19 ARP for?
AHS created the COVID-19 redeployment ARP as a “temporary, optional remuneration arrangement to provide a predictable compensation for those physicians who offer to work in prioritized redeployment roles.” The plan is an optional alternative to regular Fee-for-Service (FFS) billing under the AHCIP Schedule of Medical Benefits (SOMB).
What is the ARP compensation model?
Physicians redeployed in priority clinical areas during the COVID-19 response can opt-in to a flat sessional rate of $220/hour in lieu of fee for service.
It is important to note there is only 1 hourly rate provided. There are no differentials for evening or weekend work.
Can I bill the Fee-for-Service for COVID-19 redeployment work?
Physicians do have the option to bill Fee-for-Service for COVID-19 redeployment work. Physicians on existing ARPs can also choose to remain on those compensation structures. However, physicians have indicated to us they are being asked to select only one option for the duration of COVID-19 redeployment work – ie. you cannot pick and choose which shifts to bill under the ARP and which shifts to bill Fee-for-Service.
Who actually pays me – AHS or AHCIP?
It is important to understand the the ARP is paid by AHS and regular Fee-for-Service billing is paid by Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) according to the SOMB. Although both AHS and AHCIP are run by the Alberta Government, these are not that same organizations. Compensation under the ARP would not be managed by your accredited Alberta biller.
Can I bill for services provided to non-Alberta patients under the ARP?
Under the Temporary Optional Payment Structure for COVID-19 ARP, physicians agree not to bill Fee-for-Service for ARP related work. If physicians provide care to non-Alberta insured patients while working under the ARP, AHS will bill the appropriate insurers and retain any billing claims. Under the ARP contract, physicians will “collaborate with AHS to bill appropriate insurers for services provided to non-Alberta patients with any recoveries retained by AHS to partially offset stipends paid by AHS.”
Should I choose the ARP or Fee-for-Service?
This is the big question we get asked the most. Which option should I choose? The honest answer is we can’t advise (sorry!). Physicians should talk to their section lead to discuss which option is best for their particular circumstances. In making a decision, physicians should consider the following:
What work can be billed?
The ARP offers a flat hourly rate. If the work is very busy, Fee-for-Service billing may offer greater compensation. However, if there is little work during the shift, physicians may receive little compensation for their time in the hospital. The ARP guarantees a level of compensation for the time worked. Fee-for-Service offers more variable compensation.
What shifts will you work?
The ARP offers no differentials for evenings, nights or weekends. If a substantial number of your shifts will be during these times, the Fee-for-Service choice may be offer better compensation.
How complex is the billing?
The ARP offers a very simple compensation model. This may be attractive for physicians working outside their normal scope of practice. If you are unfamiliar with the billing codes relevant to your COVID-19 redeployment, it may be simpler to avoid Fee-for-Service billing for this work.
Alberta Health is offering two compensation models for COVID-19 related work: an ARP or your existing compensation model. Making the right choice depends on your particular situation and the type of COVID-19 redeployment work you expect to provide. We recommend physicians discuss their options with their sectional lead to understand what type of work they will be doing and choose based on the considerations above. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep everyone posted here. As always, if you have comments or questions, let us know – we’re happy to hear from you.