2014 Runner Up: A No-Cost Innovation to Increase Access to Health Care

More and more physicians are leaving behind their independent practices in favor of joining Medicare Accountable Care Organizations. By forming an ACO, the participants are eligible to participate in Shared Savings programs (facilitated by Medicare). In addition to that incentive, ACO participants also are provided technical support, administrative aid, and mitigated risk.

It sounds idyllic, but there are losses. With the preferential treatment shown to ACOs, many practitioners are leaving behind independent practices in favor of joining hospitals or larger group practices.  In 2006, approximately 70% of doctors owned their own practice; that number has slipped to below 50%, as of December 2012. This means fewer primary care facilities and less access to health care. But there is a solution. By introducing Independent Risk Managers to our health care systems, physicians can keep their independent practices without losing out on the valuable overhead and potential profits gained by participating in a Shared Savings Program.

These outside agents would organize all risk sharing, care coordination, reporting, and data collection necessary to participate in the Shared Savings Program without losing their independence. The advantageous shift, which would improve health care services and potentially create jobs, would have no cost to implement, but rather needs a legislative change in US healthcare policy.

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