Affordable Health Care Through ACO’s

The government has promised affordable health care but has yet to deliver. Truth is, most of the proposed solutions do nothing to lower the cost of health care. Everything they have tried, and most things they have proposed, will not result in more affordable health care.

Washington’s big idea in making health care more affordable is to pay doctors and hospitals LESS for the services they provide.

Consider this. How enthusiastic would you be if your employer told you they were going to reduce your pay by 27% but expected you to do the same amount of work for less pay? Medical providers that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients feel the same way.

But one part of the incorrectly named Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) may indeed provide a way to improve the quality of health care while lowering costs. Accountable Care Organizations, or ACO’s, are an attempt to hold providers accountable for the level of care they provide.

Emory and Blue Cross said in a press release that a goal is “to bring together the often fragmented health care delivery and reimbursement systems to create an integrated model of coordination and shared accountability among hospitals, doctors and insurance carriers.’’

An Emory official, Janet Christenbury, said the two organizations will have more to say about the collaboration in coming weeks. She said the talks were driven, in part, by changes in the health care marketplace and by the Affordable Care Act.

Charles Goldberg, an Atlanta-based health care consultant, said the Emory/Blue Cross collaboration could be a response to recent moves by Piedmont Healthcare and WellStar Health System. Those two organizations have formed a partnership and are working to offer a health insurance product.

“There’s a lot of momentum’’ toward these combinations, Goldberg said. “It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years.’’

Georgia Health News

One potential downside of ACO’s is this. Since providers are penalized for poor results, the ACO’s may limit or refuse to take on the most difficult medical cases or limit the number of sick people with traditionally poor outcomes. By restricting the number of patients to those who have a better than average chance of recovery, the ACO can maximize their revenues.

This will limit access to health care, affordable or otherwise, which is never a good situation.

Affordable health care may or may not prove effective. Still, it is an attempt to change the status quo but completely ignores the one element that can truly lower the cost of health care.

The patient can make health care affordable by taking personal responsibility in their health. Proper diet and exercise go a long way toward affordable health care.

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