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Wellmark reports improved quality and cost savings from its Accountable Care Organizations arrangements
August 7, 2014

DES MOINES, IA (Aug. 7, 2014) – The five initial Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s ACO Shared Savings model have improved their quality scores by over 35 percent and saved more than $12 million during the first two years, Wellmark announced today. The positive results mean that each of the initial five participating ACOs will receive an incentive payment from Wellmark for achieving their performance goals.


“In collaboration with providers, we are working together to transform health care in Iowa from a system that has emphasized quantity of care to one that rewards quality of care while also improving the patient experience.” said Sheryl Terlouw, director, network innovation. “This is a good indication of the positive results that can be achieved when providers of care and Wellmark work together with a common focus on the patient.”


ACOs are designed to improve the quality of care, provide greater value and slow increases in health care costs.  ACO providers assume responsibility for managing a population of patients, both who are healthy and those who are in need of care, no matter where in the system the patients receive care. Wellmark offers the providers financial rewards if they reach established quality goals and slow the rate of increase in health care spending for these patients. At the same time, providers will not earn their incentives if their quality declines or their costs run higher than expected.


The ACO data being reported includes UnityPoint Health, Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines, Genesis Health Systems, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and a collaboration between Mercy Medical Center – Cedar Rapids and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.


The five ACOs participating in 2013, which represent more than 358,000 members, achieved savings through reducing hospital admissions by nearly 12 percent, readmissions by 7 percent and emergency department visits by nearly 11 percent.


To date, ACOs have been comprised of members with fully-insured health insurance plans. In addition to the five ACOs listed above, Wellmark began ACO Shared Savings relationships in 2014 with Family Health Care of Siouxland, McFarland Clinic and The Iowa Clinic.

Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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