Four more hospital systems form Wellmark ACOs

Iowa’s largest health insurer continues to add hospital systems to its collection of health-care providers that have signed accountable care organization contracts.

Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield now has signed such contracts with 13 systems. The systems represent 29 of Iowa’s 118 community hospitals, including most of the large medical centers.

Accountable care organizations are a relatively new way of financing health care. The idea is that hospital and clinic systems will be rewarded for keeping patients well instead of just being paid more for each extra treatment.

The new contracts announced Monday are with Great River Health System in the Burlington area, Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs and Pella Regional Health Center.

The insurance company previously had signed nine such contracts, including with both major hospital systems in the Des Moines area.

Accountable care organizations are part of a movement to encourage quality and efficiency in health care. The idea is encouraged by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Public insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, also have been signing such contracts with hospital systems.

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