What is an ACO?
An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a network of doctors and hospitals who agree to work together with Medicare and shares responsibility for delivering high-quality, coordinated care to patients. ACOs may take different approaches to giving you coordinated care.
Some ACOs may have special nurses that help you set up appointments or make sure your medications are in order when you enter or leave a hospital. Other ACOs may help your doctors get you equipment for monitoring your medical conditions better at home, if you need it. Most ACOs use advanced systems that let them more carefully track your care and make sure your doctor has the most up-to-date information about your health.
The goal of the ACO is to support your doctor in caring for you. ACOs help your doctor and health care providers work together more closely, by making sure they have the most up-to-date information about your health and your care. For you, this means your doctors communicate better with each other and you avoid having duplicate tests or answering the same questions over and over. Working together, your doctors can do more to follow your health, make sure you get the best possible care, and may hire additional staff to help meet your unique care needs, depending on what works best for you.
Doctors and other health care providers choose to participate in an ACO because they’re committed to providing you with a better care experience. They may also be rewarded for offering you better, more coordinated care. If your doctor chooses to participate in an ACO, you will be notified, either in person or by letter.
An ACO isn’t the same as a Medicare Advantage Plan or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). You’re still in Original Medicare and your Medicare benefits, services, rights and protections won’t change. You still have the right to use any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare at any time, the same way you do now.