Healthcare trends have been on the rise during the last few years and there are growing concerns over the financial stability of the Medicare program. There are also concerns regarding the aging of the Baby Boomers, the increase in average age of enrollees, and an insufficient tax base to cover future funding of the Medicare program. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) attempts to address some of these growing concerns by implementing laws and programs aimed at reducing healthcare costs. The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) as well as the Pioneer program are two such initiatives.
This paper compares the MSSP and Pioneer ACOs and outlines their key features in terms of six major areas: payment arrangements, beneficiary alignment, interim payment methodology, benchmark methodology, trending methodology, and calculation of shared savings/losses.
With accountable care organizations (ACOs) soon to serve more than a million Medicare patients, it is clear that this model of care delivery is receiving an unprecedented test of its viability, and, if it works as intended, may reshape how healthcare is paid for on a larger scale. Cigna alone plans to have more than a million people enrolled in ACOs by 2014, and says it believes that ACOs are going to be important regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
With so much focus on the topic, it’s worth taking a look back at some of the research and analysis on ACOs published by Milliman on the topic over the past couple of years.
First, for a good summary of ACOs—what they are and how they work—start with this overview video featuring a number of Milliman experts.
For many observers, the key question about ACOs is whether they represent a financially viable model compared to fee-for-service. Effective financial management will be key to success. Milliman has produced a number of relevant papers:
“ACO Gain/Loss Sharing” proposes a framework for allocating savings within an ACO that emphasizes rewards for an ACO’s component entities based on their relative contributions to the organization’s total shared savings and quality performance. Such a framework is required when applying as a Medicare ACO, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not provided a detailed procedure for creating one. This paper tries to help fill that gap.
With all the attention on Medicare ACOs, it’s easy to forget that they exist in the private market, as well. For more on such entities, look at “ACOs Beyond Medicare,” which describes the potential advantages for providers who partner with a private insurer rather than with CMS. A 2011 Managed Healthcare Executive roundtable featuring Milliman consultant Rob Parke also discussed ACOs in the private market.
A number of other papers have also been published discussing various aspects of ACOs such as:
Physicians and hospitals are facing unprecedented pressure from healthcare purchasers to deliver higher-quality, more cost-effective care. This paper discusses how it will be increasingly difficult for individual providers to continue without joining a larger integrated system. For many of these emerging systems, a partnership with a health plan will be much more attractive than becoming an accountable care organization (ACO) serving Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries.
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