ACOs saved $345 per patient in 2012, study finds

New research out of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health shows Medicare patients in ACOs incurred $345 less in medical costs in 2012, without increasing prescription drug costs.

The study, funded by the Commonwealth Fund and published in Medical Care, compares outcomes for more than 316,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries in ACOs with the outcomes of nearly 560,000 peers not in ACOs.

"We found that Medicare beneficiaries with Part D prescription coverage with six or more chronic conditions who were aligned to an ACO had the highest savings on medical costs — $966 per patient in 2012, compared to their peers not assigned to an ACO," lead author Yuting Zhang, PhD, associate professor of health policy and management at Pitt Public Health, said in a statement. "This is encouraging because it demonstrates that ACO providers may be prioritizing their focus on beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions."

Researchers analyzed annual Part D spending per patient, as well as drug counts and portion of brand name drugs prescribed. They also looked at annual Part A and Part B spending. They found ACO affiliation had little to no affect on Part D spending for patients, though they noted that their study was limited.

"In the future, we'll need to evaluate the effect of medication prescribing and adherence on clinical outcomes for patients in ACOs compared to their peers who are not in ACOs," Dr. Zhang said in a statement. "For example, we could link changes in medication adherence for cardiovascular drugs with heart attacks to see if there is a clear difference in prescribing practices and patient outcomes."


More articles on accountable care:

Applications open for CMS' Next Generation ACO Model
Prevalence of risk-bearing ACOs increasing under Medicare programs, Avalere says
How one ACO helped coordinate care for a woman's sick mother and husband

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