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ACOs, Good or Bad?

Posted Aug 30 2012 1:32am
In an article entitled, “Are ACOs Merely Repackaged HMOs,” Dr. Kirsch addresses the new beast on the block, the much heralded Accountable Care Organization.   Why is this subject worth writing about?   The answer to that question is easy!   In the near future, your trusted hospital corporation (in my area it will be Advocate) will launch a media blitz, telling you why you should sign up for their ACO.Advocate Healthcare owns 12 hospitals in the Chicago area.   Their commercials will inform you that they employ over 1,000 of the best physicians in the Midwest and are affiliated with thousands of other physicians, like myself.   They will boast of being on the Top 10 list of hospitals in the country with the most modern and up-to-date facilities, diagnostic and surgical centers available anywhere.   They will tell you that they provide cutting-edge treatments for whatever ails you, and they will be right!They are also going to inform you that all of their facilities and doctors will be there for you when you need them if you join their ACO.   Not only will your every medical need be met by joining their ACO; but, most likely, it will all be free to you (no co-pay or deductible).   Sounds great, doesn’t it?Ever hear of the saying, “Too good to be true?”   Yes, some things are “too good to be true.”   How can an ACO offer you everything you need and cut the cost of providing medical care?   The answer to that question is easy.  You don’t decide what you need.   Your doctor does not decide what you need.   The ACO decides what you need and what you will get. The doctor will be accountable to the Accountable Care Organization which will set “quality” standards and treatment protocols.   You will love the care you receive as long as you fit into one of their treatment protocols.   If you are an individual with individual needs, you probably won’t be as happy.Obviously, I will not be part of an ACO.   Having authored this article and others, no ACO will have me.   That’s a good thing! The devil often makes tempting or threatening offers.   I suppose the majority of my colleagues will join the local ACOs out of fear.   After all, the major hospital chains will spend a lot of advertising dollars enticing my patients to join.   Many will fall for the pitch, perhaps putting me out of business.   Others, the optimists in the group, will join hoping that ACOs will truly cut the cost of medical care and save our ailing system.   HMOs did not save our system nor cut cost.   ACOs won’t either.   Read Dr. Kirsch’s article by clicking on the hyperlink above.   It’s worth your time. 
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