What is an Accountable Care Organization?

An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a group of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who voluntarily come together to provide coordinated, high-quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. Care coordination helps ensure that patients get the right care at the right time, with the goal being to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors.  

An ACO is not an insurance plan; they’re part of Original Medicare and aren’t the same as Medicare Advantage plans.  

An ACO may consist of:

  • Primary care doctors
  • Specialists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Hospitals and health systems
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Home health agencies
  • Pharmacies
  • Other members of the health care team who offer and coordinate medical-related services and other supports

ACOs are designed to put patients at the center of their care and help patients navigate a complex health care system.

Patients whose health care provider participates in an ACO may get:

  • Extra help managing chronic diseases 
  • Coordination between different doctors or members of their care team
  • More preventive health services to help them stay healthy
  • Additional recovery support when coming home from a hospital stay
  • Care in more convenient ways, such as care at home or through telehealth or other virtual means