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U.S. health insurer CIGNA Corp. (CI - Analyst Report) has formed an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative with Atlantic Accountable Care Organization. This step is in sync with Cigna’s goal to improve the quality of care and service provided to the customers along with lower healthcare costs and improving overall value.
 
An ACO is a group effort by health care providers, who voluntarily form alliances to provide coordinated high quality care to patients. An ACO is accountable for the quality, cost and overall care offered to members. By focusing on the needs of patients and connecting payments to the service offered, this model is intended to improve the health of individuals and communities as well as curtail rising healthcare costs.
 
Cigna’s new ACO initiative with Atlantic Accountable Care Organization will serve more than 15,000 individuals covered by the Cigna health plan. These customers already receive services from 1300 doctors affiliated to Atlantic ACO.
 
Through this program doctors will monitor and coordinate all the aspects of a patient’s care. The enrollees in the program will also have the benefit of receiving services of registered nurses employed by Atlantic ACO. They will coordinate patient care, educate patients about various health conditions, and provide counsel for corrective health care. The ACO will also designate care coordinators who will stay close to the patients and monitor the services being offered. 
 
Atlantic ACO physicians will receive remuneration based on their performance in reducing patients’ health care cost while providing them best service. 
 
Cigna calls its ACO-like initiatives Collaborative Accountable Care (CAC). Initiatives like ACO or CAC are being deployed to improve the health of Americans as well as to offer high quality health care to patients. 
 
At present, Cigna is engaged in more than 52 CAC initiatives in 22 states. These programs provide services to more than 510,000 Cigna customers. The company initiated its first CAC program back in 2008. It aims to serve about 1 million customers via 100 CAC initiatives by 2014.
 
Companies like UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH - Analyst Report) and Aetna Inc. (AET - Analyst Report) also assert ACO initiatives. Going forward, we expect acceleration in the formation of such patient-centered collaborations.
 
Cigna currently retains a Zacks Rank # 2 (Buy). Another stock, FBL Financial Group Inc. (FFG - Snapshot Report) carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) is worth considering.

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