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Examining Growth Patterns in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Shared Savings Plan Accountable Care Organizations

By Zachary Gross, Inna Cintina, PhD, and Lane Koenig, PhD
October 30, 2023

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have risen to prominence in recent years as two examples of care delivery with enhanced coordination and management of patients’ conditions to improve outcomes. MA plans are privately managed alternatives to Traditional Medicare (TM) offered by insurance companies. ACOs, on the other hand, are networks of healthcare providers that collaborate to provide comprehensive and coordinated care to a specific patient population. While ACOs are part of a fee-for-service payment arrangement, they are also financially rewarded for the savings they generate. There are multiple Medicare ACO models, but Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) remains the largest model, with over 10 million attributed beneficiaries in 2021 (i.e., over 15% of the total Medicare population in 2021). Collectively, the MA and MSSP ACO programs covered 59% of Medicare beneficiaries in 2021. In this piece, we explore whether or not the growth in MSSP ACOs and MA plans has occurred in similar areas of the country.

Growth in MA Enrollment and Beneficiary Alignment with MSSP ACO

In 2016, 46% of eligible Medicare beneficiaries were either enrolled in a MA plan or attributed to an MSSP ACO. As noted above, by 2021, this share had increased […]

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