Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)

Your doctors try hard to give you high quality care, but it can be a challenge to juggle information. Medicare wants to ensure that all doctors have the resources and information they need to coordinate your care.

That's why we're working with many doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that have decided to work together in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to better coordinate your care.

The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors.

If your doctor, health care provider, or hospital decides to coordinate care through this program, you'll benefit because they'll working together to get you the right care at the right time in the right setting.

If your doctor has decided to participate in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), and you have Original Medicare, you’ll be notified, either in person or by letter.

You can always see any doctor or healthcare provider that takes Medicare. If your doctor participates in this program, you can see still see any doctor or health care provider who accepts Medicare. Nobody—not your doctor, not anyone—can tell you who you have to see. Your Medicare benefits will also stay the same.

How ACOs work

  • Local health care providers and hospitals volunteer to work together to provide you with coordinated care. The doctors and other providers who are helping care for you will communicate with each other, and partner with you in making health care decisions. Your doctors use data from Medicare to help improve how they provide care. For example, your doctors will get your medical information from Medicare to help them to know your medical history, including your medical conditions, prescriptions, and visits to the doctor, and give you the right care at the right time in the right setting.
  • You may spend less time filling out medical history paper work because your doctors may already have this information in an electronic health record. You’ll likely have fewer repeated medical tests because your doctors and hospitals will share information and coordinate your care.
  • Your care providers will be paid partly based on providing better care, better coordination, and better value—not just more tests and procedures.
  • You’ll be in the center of care, and your doctors will be better able to keep you informed, and to keep listening and honoring your choices.

Here’s an example of how your care might be coordinated if your doctor decides to participate in a team with other doctors and hospitals:


Mary is a senior living with multiple chronic diseases, including diabetes. Mary has also had problems with her heart in the past.

Mary has a primary care provider she trusts, Dr. Thomas. Mary sees Dr. Thomas regularly, making sure she gets yearly physicals and other check-ups.

Mary also has other doctors that help her with her other conditions. Mary sees Dr. Andrews, a cardiologist, for her heart. She also sees a nutritionist to help with her diabetes.

Juggling all her appointments is hard for Mary, and she worries that she'll miss one. She also isn't sure whom to call with questions sometimes, including questions about her prescriptions.

Dr. Thomas and Dr. Andrews decide to work with other providers to better coordinate their patients' care. Mary now has a single point of contact for all of her care questions. She can call the same number to make appointments to see the right doctor, and even get health questions answered over the phone. She also gets reminder calls if she forgets to schedule an appointment, and she gets visits at home when she's discharged from the hospital.

When her doctors decided to participate in this program, they put Mary at the center of her care. Her care is more coordinated and focused around her.

If you have questions or you aren't sure if your doctor is in a Medicare ACO, ask them.