In the fall, 30,000 Puget Sound-area Boeing employees and retirees will be able to choose between two accountable care organizations (ACOs) for their personal and family health plan, a coverage option Boeing is calling the “Preferred Partnership.”
There were more than 600 ACOs nationwide at the start of the year, and they are being touted as a key strategy for curbing U.S. health-care costs.
The fundamental idea is that doctors and hospitals are rewarded for keeping and making patients healthy, rather than a “fee for service” approach where they earn more for prescribing lots of tests or scheduling appointments regardless of how a patient fares.
The contracts also include quality goals that matter to patients, such as the ability to schedule appointments in a timely manner and maintaining patient safety and satisfaction.
There are additional benchmarks tied to costs, including reducing readmissions to hospitals after treatments and effectively managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Dr. Elliott Fisher, director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in New Hampshire, is hopeful the ACOs can help heal an inefficient health-care system. “There is so much waste,” Fisher said. “ACO arrangements are intermediate steps toward more fundamental reforms.”