It appears some California doctors are not at all pleased with a new doctor rating system launched by Blue Shield of California and have launched a class action lawsuit
against the insurance company. Blue Shield notes that the rating system uses "nationally recognized measures of care," and the data itself comes from doctors groups, health plans and purchasers. Of course, the real question is whether or not a rating system like this can be against the law. After all, it's an opinion. In many ways, this lawsuit reminds me of lawsuits against Google from people who don't like their rankings
. Such lawsuits have not gone far
. Blue Shield has every right to express an opinion
about a doctor, and in this case does so based on a variety of well-accepted measures. I can understand why doctors who don't perform well might not like it -- and I can also see potential problems if the data creates incentives for certain behavior that is less helpful for patients -- but that doesn't make expressing an opinion illegal. Hopefully the courts will recognize that, or we may get a very bad ruling on the books that says that giving an opinion is not allowed if some people don't like that opinion.