GE Uses Clout To Change How Hospitals, Doctors Work

The New York Times looks at the impact one big employer can have on the medical system in a community. Also, The Wall Street Journal examines the health law's efforts to set up accountable care organizations and the impact on hospitals.

The New York Times: As Some Companies Turn To Health Exchanges, G.E. Seeks A New Path
Although the new federal health care law is designed to help people buying individual policies, even people with employer-provided policies are beginning to see changes in their coverage as companies rethink health care for their workers, discontinuing it in a few cases and redesigning it in many others. ... But here in Cincinnati, General Electric is taking the opposite approach. One of the largest employers in the nation, it spends more than $2 billion a year offering coverage to 500,000 employees and retirees and their families. And it is using its considerable clout in places like this -- where its giant aviation business gives it a major presence -- to work directly with doctors and hospitals to improve care and reduce costs (Abelson, 9/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Give Health Law Real-World Test
In an ACO, hospitals or groups of doctors contract with insurers to provide care for an assigned patient population. The aim: better care at lower cost. ACOs have incentives to keep patients healthy and incurring lower costs because they get to share the savings. Commercial insurers have created more than 200 ACOs with health-care systems in recent years. Now, the Affordable Care Act is giving the concept a government-funded test by authorizing Medicare to set up pilot ACOs. More than 250 health systems have signed on since 2011, creating ACOs covering more than four million Medicare beneficiaries (Beck, 9/26).

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