Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce the new US health organizations called accountable care organizations (ACOs) which are expected to improve the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare for Medicare enrolees. It assesses the importance of ACOs, defining and articulating the values that will underpin their strategic and clinical decision making.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper uses a social values framework developed by Clark and Weale to consider the values relevant to ACOs.
Findings: It is likely that social values could be made more explicit in a US setting than they have ever been before, via the new ACOs. Social values could start to form part of a local health economy's marketing strategy.
Originality/value: ACOs are very new. This paper identifies that they will need to be very explicit about the values relevant to them. The development of ACOs and the articulation of social values therein may even form the basis of a meaningful dialogue on the importance of assessing value for money or cost-effectiveness in the wider US health policy environment.