More ACO Propaganda


You always have to be careful about what you read because everyone has their own biases.  Even this blog is slanted my way because, well, that’s the way I want it.  If you have been reading my stuff for any amount of time, you would have realized that I am biased towards doctors and nurses and against big gov’t, insurers, administrators and so on. I admit it.  That being said, when bogus sites like HealthLeaders Media puts out an article entitled Anthem Blue Cross ACO Generates Savings of $8 Million, I immediately become suspicious.  Please read it because the assumption is that the ACO concept is working beautifully. Here are some highlights:

  • By focusing on members who have two or more chronic conditions, an Anthem Blue Cross ACO in California has been able to save almost $8 million by reducing incidences of hospital stays and outpatient visits, and increasing the use of generic prescription drugs.
  • The results were generated by approximately 200,000 participants during a one-year period from July 2013 to June 2014. The goal was to better coordinate care so that patients would better manage their conditions and improve their overall health.
  • Participants reported a 7.3% decline in hospital admissions per 1,000 patients, a 2.3% decline in outpatient visits per 1,000 patients, and a 4.2% increase in the use of generic prescription drugs. While 19 medical groups are taking part in the Enhanced Personal Health Care Program, the $7.9 million in savings was reported by six medical groups who started their programs around the same time.
  • Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said the results reported by Anthem are a sign that value-based care can produce results. “I find the results encouraging because they showed reductions in hospital IP [inpatient] days and stays, the most expensive component of care,” said Kominski. “These are system changes that are long overdue, in my opinion, and indicate that healthcare providers are moving at a faster rate to adopt value-based care.”

Sounds awesome, right?  Well, $8 million divided by 200,000 is a savings of $40 per patient. I pay $13,000 a year for my Anthem policy.  I am not sure if I paid $12,960 that I would notice.  But let’s say this is a major amount of savings.  Great.  Then were is that money going?  To the doctors?  Back to the patients?  It doesn’t say.  And how much time and money did it cost these participating physicians to create these savings?  It doesn’t say.  Well, it sure would have been nice to have this information.

This is a typical media fluff piece.  No hard questions.  It’s just propaganda to be fed to the masses.  The Authentic Medicine website is devoted to questioning authority because accepting bullshit, like this article, as fact only causes more problems in the long run.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  3 comments for “More ACO Propaganda

  1. Steve O'
    June 14, 2015 at 1:25 am

    I’ve just gotta go back and revisit this site one more time. “Switch to Generic!” That’s a hoot! It’s almost as stale as 30 years ago, when the MedLiterati were in a fuss over the “shortage in primary care providers.” And 15 years ago when they discovered the growing understaffing of hospitals was killing people.
    What’s the track record? The ‘switch2generic’ remedy was run and done before Brezhnev hit room temperature – the “shortage of primary care providers” only accelerated, no matter how wide we toss the net to find “providers.” We’ll be buying them by the ton from Indonesian medicals schools in a year or two. And understaffing killing people? That was in the GOOD old days of staffing, before the hospitals REALLY hit the skids. We’re facing a hi-angle punch in soon, after 30 years of unlimited visibility. There’s nobody to blame but us.

  2. Perry
    June 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I don’t smell buttercups, I smell horse poopoo.

  3. Steve O'
    June 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Here’s one of the giveaways that this story is bunk. Apply the ISB test (“I smell buttercups,” except, not exactly buttercups.) “increasing the use of generic prescription drugs…” That’s a sign that someone doesn’t know what the hell she/he is talking about.
    “Brand-name-only” prescriptions cost more than generics – of course. But that problem was addressed and corrected before Yoko broke up the band. Talking about saving money by switching to generic prescription’s as old an argument as whether to repeal prohibition, or whether women should have the right to vote. Anyone who trots out this ol’ pony is trying to claim money savings by fixing a moot problem. Yup, re-elect Ike, and stop the Brand Name Prescription. I smell buttercups.

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