An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a group of doctors and other healthcare providers who agree to work together with Medicare to give you the best possible care.
The goal of the ACO is to support your doctor in caring for you 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.
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 equipment for you to monitor your medical conditions better at home, if needed. Most ACOs use advanced systems that let them more carefully coordinate your care.
Doctors and other healthcare 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.