Though accountable care organizations have been around for more than a decade, their effectiveness at reducing healthcare costs remains a highly debated issue, prompting impassioned condemnations and defenses from experts in the industry. A new study has stirred up the pot once again.
The goal of ACOs, that is, entities that take responsibility for the quality and cost of care across settings, is to move the healthcare system toward value-based care. The ACO model aligns incentives with a focus on reducing costs and improving care so participating providers can share the savings earned. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched its first ACO payment model in 2012.
But a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that ACOs may not be cutting costs as expected. CMS’ ACO programs roughly broke even — which means, the programs either lost money or saved no more than a few tenths of a percent.