UnityPoint Health Partners and UnitedHealthcare announced today they have formed an accountable care organization. The ACO will serve more than 36,000 Iowa residents who are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare's employer-sponsored health plans in six metro areas of the state, including Greater Des Moines. Beginning Oct. 1, the ACO will help participating physicians and hospitals improve transitions of care for patients and facilitate improved communication with all who are involved in a patient's treatment. Employees of companies in UnitedHealthcare plans will automatically be provided the ACO's services. Accountable care organizations are part of a movement by health care providers away from a payments system based on volume of care toward one that rewards quality and value. Nationwide, more than $31 billion of UnitedHealthcare's annual physician and hospital reimbursements are tied to accountable care and related programs; the insurer projects this will reach $65 billion by 2018.