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What is an Accountable Care Organization (ACO)?
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are collections of providers who have decided to be accountable for the health of a group of patients, both clinically and financially. The objective is to improve the health and clinical outcomes for the patients for which they are responsible, and by doing so to reduce the costs associated with avoidable or unnecessary care due to preventable health care events. Strategies for accomplishing these objectives include care transition and coordination programs for chronically ill patients, wellness initiatives, effective patient education, and programs focused on improving the health of populations.

Payers such as CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) provide incentives for ACOs when they are successful in achieving reduced costs, improved clinical outcomes, and a better experience for the Medicare Fee-For-Service beneficiaries they serve. The ACO is required to meet certain quality measures to ensure that the patient experience is optimized. Patients also retain the freedom to receive their health care from the provider of their choice. 

Please visit www.medicare.gov/acos.html or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227 (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048)) for general questions or additional information about Accountable Care Organizations