HealthyCal: Can accountable care organizations reign in health-care costs?

Published: February 13, 2013

By Callie Shanafelt
California Health Report

Coordination and effective use of existing resources can save money. That’s the idea behind the push for innovations built into the health care reform law, like electronic health records, pay for performance and accountable care organizations.

But it’s unlikely that any of these innovations will be a silver bullet in the battle against rising health care costs, including accountable care organizations. Those familiar with the provider conglomerates say they may not be as much of a cure-all as health-care reform suggests.

Accountable care organizations are a coordinated group of health-care providers who agree to a set payment per patient, rather than charging a fee for each service provided.

“What ACOs really are is repackaging or rebranding,” said James Robinson, a UC Berkeley professor who studied the past three decades of managed care in California for the Integrated Healthcare Association.


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