ACOs Save Money for Patients with Multiple Conditions

Accountable Care Organizations saved $456 per patient per year for Medicare beneficiaries with 3 or more conditions.

Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) were found to decrease spending on patients with multiple conditions, a recent study found.

Researchers in the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined Medicare claims data between 2009 to 2013, including 252 Medicare ACOs.

Researchers examined data from the Medicare population, as well as Medicare patients treated for 3 or more conditions, which the study noted is approximately 22% of the overall Medicare population and accounts for the majority of spending.

Researchers examined ACO spending per quarter for acute care, medical procedures, and long term care, according to the study.

"What we're finding is that reductions in total spending associated with ACOs are modest, increase slightly over time, and demonstrate savings consistent with other evaluations of ACO impact," said lead author Carrie Colla, PhD.

The study showed a reduction in total spending by $136 annually per patient and $456 annually per patient for the overall Medicare population and patients with multiple conditions, respectively.

For the overall Medicare population, ACOs are also linked to a 1.4% decrease in hospitalization and a 1.4% decrease in acute care spending, the researchers wrote. The researchers also found a 1.9% decrease in emergency department visits and a 5% decrease in spending for skilled nursing facilities.

According to the study, within the first 2 years of implementation, ACOs saved approximately $592 million among patients with multiple conditions.

"With Medicare ACOs, the majority of the savings is concentrated on patients with complex medical needs, indicating that coordinated care is likely a factor in being able to more efficiently treat chronic illness," Dr Colla concluded.