The population-based movement is well underway, as is the growth of accountable care organizations (ACOs). The idea behind ACOs, as established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is that payers hold providers jointly accountable, financially and for their patients’ outcomes, to spur more coordinated patient care, ensure patients are receiving the care they need, and eliminate waste. Some experts were and continue to be skeptical about the model, and some have predicted its decline. Despite these concerns, many stakeholders have latched onto the concept.
Today, more than 32 million insured individuals are enrolled in or attributed to an ACO, and commercial ACOs provide care to approximately 59 percent of them. Therefore, ACOs are beginning to have a sizable impact on employers’ health care strategies. For most employers, this means that some portion of their populations are passively attributed to an ACO if they happened to seek care from providers in the ACO in a recent time period.