What the Affordable Care Act means to healthcare providers


Federal officials designed the Affordable Care Act to make healthcare in this country stronger and make the system work better for physicians and their patients. The intention of the reform is to put doctor-patient relationships ahead of insurance company profits.

The Affordable Care Act is also designed to decrease the burden of uncompensated care on doctors and hospitals.

The amount of insurance paperwork should also be lessened, which would allow staff and administration to focus on treating patients instead of devoting too much time to insurance bureaucracy. Essentially, the intention of the act is to allow caregivers to do what they do best – care for patients who look to them for help and advice.

The Affordable Care Act timetable
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act and thus put into place comprehensive health insurance reforms. Some reforms have already gone into effect and the rest will continue to roll out over the next two years.

Here are some of the biggest reforms that either have gone or will go into effect under the new act. These changes will greatly impact the way doctors treat patients.

  • On Sept. 23, 2010, insurance companies were prohibited from rescinding coverage.
  • On Jan. 1, 2012, Medicaid reimbursements increased matching Medicare rates for primary care services.
  • Also on Jan. 1, 2012, the Affordable Care Act provided incentives for doctors to band together and form “Accountable Care Organizations,” groups that will allow physicians to better coordinate patient care, improve quality and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. If these organizations provide high-quality care and reduce costs to the system, they are allowed to keep some of the money saved.
  • Also on Jan. 1, 2012, states became required to pay primary care doctors no less than 100 percent of Medicare payment rates in 2013 and 2014 for primary care services.
  • Perhaps the biggest reform with the greatest doctor-patient benefit is the one that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. From that day forward, physicians' payments will be determined based on the quality of care they provide. It will no longer be a case of quantity of patients seen a day, but the quality given to those that were seen.

Doctors will have more control
In recent history, insurance companies often controlled much of what occurred in hospitals and doctor’s offices around the country. But the Affordable Care Act is intended to give control back to the doctors and allow them to treat patients as they see fit. The reforms also are intended to diminish the burden of uncompensated care on healthcare providers and hospitals by making access to care more affordable than ever before.

Less paperwork and red tape should cut costs
The Affordable Care Act should simplify paperwork and decrease administrative hassles, allowing medical service providers to focus on quality of care rather than handling paperwork. A mandated switch to electronic healthcare records should help in this area, vastly reducing paperwork.

Increased focus on career training and job creation
In conjunction with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Affordable Care Act will make possible the training of more than 15,000 new primary care providers over the next few years.

In addition, new nurse-managed health clinics will be established to train nurse practitioners who will work in underserved communities. And the National Health Service Corps will provide scholarships for more primary care physicians and physician assistants willing to work in these communities as well.

And finally, the Affordable Care Act encourages states to focus on healthcare workforce needs. Five million dollars have been allocated for the planning and implementation of innovative strategies by each state in order to expand their workforce by 10 percent to 25 percent over the next 10 years.

The Affordable Care Act should provide opportunities for the healthcare industry to thrive with quality of patient care becoming a priority and information management shifting to streamlined, hassle-free models.

Erin Palmer writes about healthcare related topics, healthcare administration degrees and online nursing programs for U.S News University Directory. For more information please visit http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com.