The Medicare Shared Savings Program, a new voluntary program that rewards hospitals and caregivers for collaborating toward improved quality of care, is gathering steam as more and more Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs, are being drawn to it on a regular basis. These organizations, used to link care providers for the purposes of improved quality, now number in the hundreds as part of the program, according to the Obama administration.
Assuming the providers are indeed able to improve care and achieve better outcomes, they can then divide whatever money is saved as a result. It’s an incentive that is helping the Medicare Shared Savings Program become one of the more promising initiatives under the admittedly beleaguered Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
So what does this mean for end-users? More than 5 million Medicare beneficiaries fall under the ACOs currently taking part in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, so this will hopefully result in higher quality care for those beneficiaries. And in the end, more efficient use of precious Medicare dollars is a positive, as well. Forbes reports that providers in the private sector are also taking an interest in participating in ACOs, including Cigna, Aetna, Humana and United Health.
As opposed to today’s payment system, which often leads to excessive, over-priced care, the new government-led program works with Medicare to contract with caregivers to provide lower cost and higher quality results. Because ACO providers are responsible for managing the care of enrollees and rewarded if patients avoid more unnecessarily expensive care, it has the potential to be a real game-changer in the world of Medicare.
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