Accountable Care Organizations in a Nutshell

An important cost-containment measure within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the development of accountable care organizations (ACOs).  While the ACO approach to care is being discussed with increased frequency in the public realm, the concept is not altogether well understood among health care consumers.

Jenny Gold, of National Public Radio (NPR), summarizes and simplifies the ACO care model in the report, Accountable Care Organizations, Explained*.  The ACO approach is described as one that a) offers doctors and hospitals financial incentives to provide good quality care to Medicare beneficiaries and b) focuses on ways to reduce the cost of care. Essentially, the “organization” is a network of providers who are rewarded for collaborating to focus on illness prevention – that is helping patients to manage chronic disease and stay out of the hospital.

Indeed, it is imperative that health care professionals be well-informed about the effects of the ACA as it continues to unfold. They must also discover ways to communicate related developments to patients and their loved ones in a manner that is easy to understand.

* Report produced as a collaboration between NPR and Kaiser Health News

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