BCBS, insurance, and the question of cost

A couple weeks ago, I had a meeting with one of the medical directors at Blue Cross. They're coming tomorrow to meet with me here at the office.
A little over a year ago, BCBS PPO send me a registered letter warning me that I was "overutilizing." Apparently, since I spend more time with patients than most doctors, it was setting off alarms. When they noticed this, they sent me a letter pointing out that my utilization is higher than other family docs' and gave me 6 months to bring it down into the same amount as others.
During the ensuing 6 months, I tried to have shorter visits with patients, but I found that it is impossible to look at the entire picture of a patient in a shorter period. Some uncomplicated patients don't need much time and I get them out quickly, but a good proportion of my patients are complicated enough that we have to address 5+ issues in a visit and go over the different approaches to treatment.
So, in December I got a second letter saying that over the second period, my utilization had not gone down and had actually gone up. Therefore, they were going to disenroll me from the PPO. I could appeal their decision, and I did, which let to this meeting at BCBS office.
Now, let me mention that appealing this is not as simple a decision at it might sound. When I discussed this issue with some other physicians who have been practicing CAM for longer, they universally recommended against appealing and recommended just dropping insurance altogether. Some insurances have been known to report physicians like me to the state board of medicine, which can be quite rabid in some states about doctors who don't toe the conventional line in their practice of medicine, so there is substantial risk to getting involved in this. Even though everything I do is supported by research and improves my patients, just dealing with a board investigation can take a tremendous toll not only financially, but emotionally as well.
The meeting was interesting: their issue is that they have to keep costs down so that when employers are looking to buy insurance they will be competitive and be able to stay in business. It's clear from their practice that when they keep skimming off the top utilizers they put a negative pressure on all the rest who will scramble to reduce how much service they provide to they don't end up in the top and get themselves skimmed. In this endless quest to reduce costs, at some point quality will decrease and the patient will suffer.
My contention is two fold. First, having acquired a reputation for being able to fix things other can't, I attract sicker patients than a typical doctor would get, many of whom have already made the rounds of all the regular doctors and specialists, which requires a little more time and care than a typical visit. Second, by spending the time at the beginning to get people on the right path, total expenditures go down: fewer hospitalizations, ER visits and specialists.
Unfortunately, they don't tie total expenditures (including hospitalizations and specialists) to a provider. So, a doctor could come in looking good by kicking people out of his office after 6 minutes and charging a level 3 visit (getting in 10 visits an hour) for each one and then they end up going to urgent care or the hospital because they don't feel any better or they get a side effect they weren't warned about. In this scenario, while delivering lousy care, the doctor would be bringing in five times what I am by seeing people for 40-60 minutes and charging for a level 5 visit. Meanwhile, I'm spending time educating patients and looking at the big picture, keeping them out of the hospitals, and they accuse me of overutilizing as if I'm where all their money is going.
Using their own figures, this isn't born out: my "high" utilization comes out to less than $500 per patient per year. A single visit to the ER could cost more than that! A single hospitalization would cost several times what my care costs. Their money must be going somewhere other than to primary care docs and office visits. Since the monthly cost of a BCBS PPO plan at the U of M is $466 a month, they bring in over $5,500 for each patient each year. If my costs average out to $500 on those patients and I keep them out of the hospitals and other big ticket places, they're keeping over 90% of what they bring in. They could be doing pretty well if what I'm doing works out.
To the credit of the doctor I talked to, he seemed supportive of what I am doing with patients, but wasn't sure it is economically viable as an insurance reimbursable service.
So, tomorrow they're coming to see my office and tell me their decision. I hear there will be two docs coming to see me. I appreciate that this must seem to be important to them: taking a couple hours of 2 docs' time isn't small potatoes, so someone must think this is important. My hope is that they're coming with a real interest in maximizing care for patients and not just looking for an excuse to get me shut down. We'll see what happens tomorrow.