October 31st, 2013
Both public and private organizations have been aggressively pursuing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a way to improve health care outcomes, lower health care costs and improve patient satisfaction with care. With substantive industry interest and popular media coverage, the success or failure of ACOs at achieving their goals has significant implications for the American health care system.
I lead a team that is actively tracking, studying and interviewing organizations that are engaged in a variety of accountable care contracts. We estimate that the number of ACOs has grown from a few dozen at the end of 2010 to nearly 500 as of the end of September 2013. After significant growth through the end of January of this year, only 35 new ACOs have been announced (see Chart 1).
Coupled with the slower growth in the total number of ACOs, there has been slower growth in the number of lives covered by ACO arrangements. We estimate an increase of less than 3 million covered lives in all of 2013, from 17.4 million lives in December 2012 to 20.1 million through the end of September (see Chart 2), and that includes the 106 CMS ACOs announced in January. This recent slowed growth has raised the question of what this means for the accountable care movement.Read the rest of this entry »