Last week I wrote about five key differences between formal ACOs (mainly care providers contracting with Medicare) and informal Accountable Care-Like (AC-Like) arrangements between care providers and commercial health plans.
- Transaction costs
- Capital cost
There’s an important 6th difference worth noting:
Formal ACOs will be visible from miles away — think elephants on the Serengeti.
An ACO that wants to contract with Medicare must establish itself as a corporation. The Medicare ACO models have substantial disclosure and reporting requirements. We won’t know everything about formal ACOs, but we will know a lot. ACOs cannot hide.
AC-Like arrangements between care providers and commercial payers could be much more difficult to spot and categorize — think chameleons in the jungle.
These informal AC-Like arrangements can be made through private contracts — therefore not necessarily publicly identifable. Some AC-Like arrangements have been visible and have been announced with press releases and confetti — but it’s also forseeable that there will be circumstances where deals will be quietly negotiated without fanfare.
Chameleons can choose to blend in, or they can change their colors.