U.S. health insurer
) recently partnered with Valley Preferred to launch an
Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative. This step is in
sync with Cigna's goal to improve the quality of care and
services provided to customers, lower healthcare costs and thus
improve overall value.
An ACO is a group effort by healthcare 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 services offered, this model
is intended to improve the health of individuals and communities
as well as curtail rising healthcare costs.
The program will be Cigna's first ACO initiative in
Pennsylvania and be effective from Jul 1.
The program will serve more than 5500 individuals who are
presently covered by a Cigna health plan and receive healthcare
services from Valley Preferred.
Through this program doctors will monitor and coordinate all
the aspects of patient care. This will be enabled by using
patient data from Cigna's database.
The enrollees in the program will also receive the services of
registered nurses employed by Valley Preferred. They will
coordinate patient care, educate patients about various health
conditions, and counsel them on proper healthcare. The ACO will
also designate care coordinators who will stay close to the
patients and monitor the services being offered.
Valley Preferred physicians will receive remuneration based on
their ability to offer quality medical care at lower rates.
Cigna calls its ACO-like initiatives Collaborative Accountable
Care (CAC). Initiatives like ACO or CAC are being deployed to
improve the quality of healthcare services offered to
At present, Cigna is engaged in more than 52 CAC initiatives
in 22 states. Effective Jul 1, the tally will rise to 66 CAC
initiatives. These programs provide services 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 #2 (Buy). Another stock,
Assured Guaranty Ltd.
) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is worth considering.
AETNA INC-NEW (AET): Free Stock Analysis
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