U.S. health insurer
) has started a Collaborative Accountable Care initiative with
University Hospitals Accountable Care Organization (UHACO).
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University Hospitals is a large Accountable Care Organization
(ACO) in the Cleveland area with more than 160,000 members. It
caters to a population range from infants to the aged.
Approximately 10,000 customers of Cigna who are covered by the
Cigna health plan and receive care from University Hospitals'
1500 primary care doctors and specialists will stand to gain from
This step is in sync with Cigna's goal to improve the quality of
care and service provided to their customers along with lowering
healthcare costs and improving overall value.
Cigna's Collaborative Accountable Care initiative is similar to
an ACO. An ACO is a group effort by health care providers,
who voluntarily form alliances to provide coordinated high
quality care for 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 intends to
improve the health of individuals and communities as well as
curtail rising healthcare costs.
Through this program doctors will monitor and coordinate all the
aspects of patient care. Patients will get the benefits of the
program even as they retain their current physician. The program
does not specify any changes regarding referrals to specialists.
Patients suffering from long-term diseases such as diabetes,
heart disease and obesity are the ones who will benefit the most
from the initiative.
The enrollees in the program will have the additional benefit of
receiving services of registered nurses. They will coordinate
patient care, educate patients about various health conditions,
and counsel them on proper health care.
The ACO will also designate care coordinators to work closely
with patients and monitor the services being offered. They will
follow up with their patients throughout, sending reminders about
screenings required or recommend direct medical help. At the same
time, they will educate patients by helping them to participate
in various health and wellness programs and workshops.
Initiatives like ACO or CAC are being deployed to improve the
health of Americans as well as to offer high quality health care
Cigna's ACO initiative is based on a Patient-Centered Medical
Home (PCMH) program. Through the PCMH, Cigna works to improve
patient care with strong focus on collaboration and communication
with physician practices.
At present, Cigna is engaged in 75 Collaborative Accountable Care
initiatives in 26 states. These programs provide services to more
than 760,000 Cigna customers. Cigna initiated its first CAC
program back in 2008. Cigna aims to serve about 1 million
customers via 100 CAC initiatives by 2014. Along with its newly
acquired subsidiary HealthSpring, Cigna has 240 ACO programs in
31 states serving more than one million customers. It has
approximately 58,000 participating doctors, which includes nearly
20,000 primary care physicians and nearly 38,000 specialists.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
) are also assertive about ACO initiatives.
Cigna currently retains a Zacks Rank # 2 (Buy). Another stock,
) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is worth considering.