Continuing with the strategy to enhance its Collaborative
Accountable Care (CAC) initiative, health insurer
) has tied up with PremierCare Northwest in Arkansas.
The Accountable Care initiative formed with PremierCare Northwest
is the first in Arkansas and is already in effect from Jan 1,
2014. The program will benefit more than 5,000 customers of Cigna
who are covered under the Cigna health plan, and receive care
from more than 117 physicians related to PremierCare primary care
doctors and over 30 specialists.
This step by Cigna is in sync with the company's goal to improve
the quality of care and service provided to customers, besides
lowering healthcare costs and enhancing overall value.
Cigna's CAC initiative is similar to an Accountable Care
Organization (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 services offered, this model intends
to improve the health of individuals and communities while, at
the same time, curtailing rising healthcare costs.
Through the CAC program, physicians of PremierCare will monitor
and coordinate all aspects of patient care. Patients will receive
the associated benefits even when 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 poised
to benefit the most from this initiative.
The enrollees under the program will also have an additional
advantage of receiving the services of registered nurses. They
will coordinate patient clinical 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 the patients all along, sending reminders about
screenings required and recommending direct medical help.
Simultaneously, they will educate patients by encouraging
increased participation in various health and wellness programs
The medical groups will be paid by Cigna on the basis of quality
services rendered by them.
Initiatives like ACOs or the one adopted by Cigna are being
deployed to improve population health in general and to offer
high quality health care to patients.
At present, Cigna is engaged in 86 Collaborative Accountable Care
initiatives in 27 U.S. states. These programs provide services to
more than 880,000 Cigna customers. Cigna initiated its first CAC
program in 2008 and aims to serve about 1 million customers via
100 CAC initiatives by 2014.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
) are also enthusiastic about ACO initiatives.
Cigna currently holds a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better ranked
) with Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) is worth considering.
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