For US companies offering their employees health insurance plans, the accountable care organisation (ACO) model could be the way to go. This is the message that comes through in a study conducted by human resource consulting organisation Aon Hewitt and health care management consulting firm Polakoff Boland.
According to Aon Hewitt, an ACO refers to the organisational structure adopted by federal agency the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to implement the Shared Savings Program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The consultancy continued that ACOs also represent a “broader value-based approach” of delivering health care whereby providers assume more financial risk, along with the opportunity of more financial reward for delivering better care at a lower cost.
“ACOs are considered next-generation health care delivery models, consisting of teams of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers and suppliers working together to coordinate and improve care for particular groups of patients,” said Aon Hewitt national medical director Michael Cryer.
“ACOs reduce cost by providing plan participants the right care at the right time.”
Cryer added: “By improving access to primary care, plan participants can avoid emergency room visits, which results in a financial reward for the ACO and shared savings with the sponsoring organisation or organisations.”
To quantify the level of interest in ACOs, Aon Hewitt and Polakoff Boland conducted a national survey of 674 employers.
The survey revealed that 28% are interested or very interested in exploring ACOs, while 37% are somewhat interested. Of the balance, 24% were unsure and 11% were not interested.