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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Is an Accountable Care Organization Right for You?

An accountable care organization (ACO) is a group of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that work together on your care. Their goal is to give you -- and other people on Medicare -- better, more coordinated treatment.

When different experts are working together to help you, you're more likely to get the care you need, when you need it. Together, they can keep you from having costly tests or treatments you don't need. And their teamwork could prevent mistakes. ACOs may be most helpful if you have a chronic illness, like diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

Here are answers to questions you might have about ACOs.

How do accountable care organizations work?

ACO providers are rewarded for working together on your treatment no matter where you get your care -- including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The goal of an ACO is to make sure you get better care, especially if you have conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

ACOs make sure that everyone who cares for your health is in touch with everyone else on your team. Communication improves between your:

  • Primary care doctor and your specialists
  • Doctors, hospital, and long-term care providers
  • Health care providers and local services, like Meals on Wheels

Doctors and other health care providers will benefit from ACOs, too. If your care improves and the cost of it goes down, Medicare saves money. The health care providers in your ACO get a share of those savings.

How would I benefit from an ACO?

Better care, lower costs. By sharing information about your medical history and coordinating your treatment, your ACO doctors can provide better care. The team will work to keep you healthy and out of the hospital. That means lower out-of-pocket costs for you.

Coordinated care. Let's say you see two different specialists, one for diabetes and another for a heart condition. One doctor may not know what the other is recommending. You might end up having the same tests more than once. But if you're in an ACO, this is much less likely to happen.

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