In 2011, nonprofit CareFirst BlueCross Blueshield launched the "Patient-Centered Medical Home" in an effort to reduce costs and improve quality of care. A recent report found that
CareFirst had a cost savings of $98 million for the medical home program in 2012, compared with $38 million the year before:
Proponents of the model say it shows that "bending the cost curve downward," as Obama described one of the goals of his 2010 healthcare law, is achievable. If innovative models like CareFirst's deliver as promised, it will ease the financial pressures on Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and make Obama's healthcare reform more likely to succeed.
"This is a very important finding, that a major health plan is able to achieve savings" of this magnitude, said Dr Elliott Fisher, a health policy expert at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and an architect of accountable care organizations.
Medical homes, like other ACOs, induce physicians to coordinate care to make sure patients' prescriptions don't interact adversely, for instance, and to think twice before ordering unnecessary tests. Physicians who reduce costs while hitting quality metrics such as regularly checking a diabetic's eyesight receive awards in the form of higher payments.
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