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Accountable Care Organizations: A Two Part Guide – Part One

Why have accountable care organizations become such a highly discussed provision of the new health law, despite only taking up a mere seven pages? Read on to find out in our two part guide to accountable care organizations. As Henderson billing specialists, we can help you understand all you need to know.

So, what is an accountable care organization?

An accountable care organization (ACO) is a network of doctors and hospitals that divides up the responsibility for providing care to patients. According to the new law, an ACO would agree to helm all of the health care needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years.

Harold Miller, president and CEO of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and executive director of the Center for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform in Pittsburg explains it using the analogy of buying a television. TV manufacturers contract multiple suppliers to build sets; similarly, an ACO would unite the different component parts of care—primary care, specialists, hospitals, home health care, etc.—for the patient to guarantee that they work together effectively. This solves the current problem of patients getting each part of their health care from a different place.

When will accountable care organizations begin operating?
Although the ACO initiative is slated to launch in January 2012, hospitals, physician practices and insurers from around the country have already begun announcing their plans to form ACOs for patients with private insurance as well as Medicare beneficiaries. Some groups have already created that they are labeling as ACOs.

Stay tuned to learn more about accountable care organizations and how they will affect your medical bill management.

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