In an effort to improve the quality of patient care and make
health care more affordable, U.S. health insurer
) has recently formed an 'Accountable Care Organization' ("ACO")
with Brown & Toland Physicians.
An ACO is a group effort by health care providers, who
voluntarily form alliances to provide coordinated high quality
care to patients. An ACO is accountable for the quality, cost,
and overall care offered to members. By focusing on the needs of
patients and linking payments to outcomes, this model of care is
intended to improve the health of individuals and communities and
curb the rising health care costs.
Cigna calls its ACO-like initiatives Collaborative Accountable
Care (CAC). ACOs or Collaborative Accountable Care is one of the
several ways by which President Obama has sought to improve the
quality of health for all Americans. It is viewed as a tool that
would deliver seamless, high quality care for the entire
Cigna's newly formed CAC program, head quartered in San
Francisco, is first of its kind commercial PPO-based ACO
initiative with an independent practice association (IPA).
Cigna is engaged in 42 collaborative accountable care initiatives
in 18 states. These programs encompass more than 390,000 Cigna
customers and more than 5,500 primary care physicians. Cigna
launched its first CAC program in 2008. The company aims to have
100 of these and bring its customer base to 1 million by the end
The Health Care Reform called for such an arrangement in order to
control the unnecessary expenses associated with lack of
coordination between multiple physicians and other providers.
Most Americans with multiple chronic conditions receive care from
multiple physicians, which often resulted in patients not getting
proper attention from the physicians.
A large percentage of the sick population ended up being
victims of medical errors and faced hospital readmissions within
days of their discharge. Thus, ACOs were formed to reduce the
exorbitant amounts spent due to lack of managed care.
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UnitedHealth Group Inc.
) are also aggressively forming ACOs. Going forward, we expect
acceleration in the formation of such patient-centered