Accountable Care Organizations Begin to Show Promise

Insurer UnitedHealth Group recently noted it will more than double payments made to physicians who participate in accountable care contacts. ACOs have already demonstrated an immense positive growth in quality care, and a reduction in medical costs.

Insurer UnitedHealth Group recently noted it will more than double payments made to physicians who participate in accountable care contacts. ACOs have already demonstrated an immense positive growth in quality care, and a reduction in medical costs. Bloomberg reports:

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) said it will more than double payments to physicians tied to quality and cost efficiency within five years, in the latest sign of transformation in the American medical system.

UnitedHealth, the biggest U.S. insurer, said it expects to spend about $50 billion under accountable-care contracts by 2017, compared with $20 billion now. The programs already have slowed the increase in medical costs and reduced emergency-room visits by 17 percent, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based carrier said in a statement today.

Insurance companies and the federal government are experimenting with accountable care to shift from fee-for-service payments that pay providers for each individual procedure. The Obama administration credited pilot programs included in its 2010 health-care law for cutting the rise in health-care spending in half over the past three years.

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