Health Care Savings Turn Eyes Toward Vermont

May 16, 2018

A Vermont health care organization working to keep patients healthier while reducing costs is being closely watched because of its rate of success — it was within 1 percent of meeting its financial target in its first year and has now been expanded to cover about 18 percent of the state's population, officials said.

Last year, OneCare Vermont covered about 24,000 Medicaid patients and now covers about 112,000 patients whose health care is provided through Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance.

The long-term goal is to expand it so that about 70 percent of health care services provided in Vermont are covered by the system, which encourages patients to stay healthier using specialized care, such as helping them manage chronic conditions like diabetes so they don't wind up needing more expensive treatment. Officials consider 70 percent a realistic goal.

Twelve states have Medicaid programs using variations of the model being used in Vermont, and another nine are planning them, said John McDonough, a health care policy expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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