U.S. health insurer
) announced that it is going to launch another Accountable Care
Organization ("ACO") initiative with Orlando Health Physician
Partners. This step is in sync with Cigna's goal to improve the
quality of care and service provided to the customers along with
lowering healthcare costs and improving overall value.
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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 connecting payments to the service offered, this
model is intended to improve the health of individuals and
communities as well as to curtail the rising healthcare costs.
Cigna's new ACO initiative with Orlando Health will serve more
than 24,000 individuals covered by Cigna health plan. These
customers already receive services from approximately 532 doctors
affiliated with Orlando Health in 94 practice locations around
Through this program doctors will monitor and coordinate all the
aspects of a patient's care. The enrollees in the program will
also have the benefit of receiving services of registered nurses
employed by Orlando Health. They will coordinate patient care,
educate patients about various health conditions, and will also
advice and give emotional support to the patients if the need
arises. The ACO will also designate care coordinators who
will stay close to the patients and monitor the services being
given to them.
Cigna calls its ACO-like initiatives Collaborative Accountable
Care ("CAC"). ACO or CAC is one of the several ways by which
President Obama is looking to improve the quality of health of
Americans. It is considered as a tool that would offer seamless,
high quality care for the entire population.
At present, Cigna is engaged in 52 CAC initiatives in 22 states.
These programs provide service to more than 510,000 Cigna
customers. The company initiated its first CAC program back in
2008. It aims to serve about 1 million customers via 100 CAC
initiatives by 2014.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
) are also assertive about ACO initiatives. Going forward, we
expect acceleration in the formation of such patient-centered
Cigna currently retains a Zacks Rank # 3 (Hold). We, also,
maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on its shares.