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Aetna Aims for National ACO Network

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 14, 2012
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This article appears in the May 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Aetna Inc. is developing commercial ACO and ACO-like relationships with several providers. The company has 10 agreements in place and expects to have a total of 20 under contract by the end of 2012, says Charles D. Kennedy, MD, CEO of aligned care solutions for Aetna.

The ACOs are each centered on a healthcare delivery system, hospital, or integrated delivery network. The program is in its infancy—it's been in the works for about four years but just began contracting in 2011. The diversified healthcare benefits company wants to develop a national ACO network over the next five years.

Aetna is investing in excess of $1 billion in a variety of capabilities to support its ACO business, including last year's acquisition of Medicity, a health information exchange technology company.

Kennedy is straightforward when asked why Aetna is developing this business line. "What we get out of this arrangement is growth. Health plans are in a low-margin, high-volume business. What they get is a business partner that can help them improve their margins, improve their market share, and improve the quality of care that they provide."

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