Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Insurance Industry Expansion Gets Little Notice

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Considerable attention by the medical community and patients is being focused on how accountable care organizations (ACOs) are poised to restructure large segments of the U.S. health care system. But until the Washington Post delved into a related issue, the media and political spotlight has largely avoided another trend that also could reshape that system

The paper published in its July 3 issue a report on how the nation's largest health insurance companies are increasing the extent to which they already manage medical care by buying up group practices and launching their own physician management companies. In a trend that has the potential to set off the same types of alarms that these companies' push into managed care did in the 1990s, the insurers are convinced that their bottom line will improve if the wall often separating decisions about providing care and paying for it is demolished. While the movement is in its infancy, it could lay the groundwork for a turf battle or even bidding wars if the companies and ACOs pursue the same groups or competing groups in a geographic area.

For extensive coverage of ACOs and the changes in store for the health care system, see Psychiatric News at
http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/6/9.2.full and http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/13/8.1.full.


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