by Angelica Wedell
Health care in America has been looking a little bit different ever since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. With the recent Supreme Court decision, this will be a big year for Affordable Care Act provisions already set in motion. There are five major provisions coming in to play this year with the goals of “improving quality and lowering costs” according to HealthCare.gov.
Accountable Care Organizations
The new law began providing financial incentives to physicians, hospitals, and other providers to voluntarily join together and form Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). These groups are geared towards Medicare recipients and share information to better coordinate patient care. HealthCare.gov states that patients who have multiple doctors would have their medical information readily available, fewer duplicated medical procedures, and would not need to explain their medical situation over and over again. ACOs that provide high quality care at a lower cost can share in the savings with the Medicare system.
Dealing with Disparities in Health Care
“Not all Americans have equal access to health care—or similar health care outcomes. Low-income Americans, racial and ethnic minorities, and other under-served populations often have higher rates of disease, fewer treatment options, and reduced access to care. They are also less likely to have health insurance than the population as a whole,” Healthcare.gov states. To begin addressing these types of disparities, the law propels the collection of racial, ethnic, gender and language data to research and reduce disparities. It will also help fund community health centers and encourage diversity among health care professionals. The goal is to make health care affordable for all by 2014.
Rebates on Insurance Premiums
Some consumers may see an insurance rebate this summer. As a result of the medical loss ratio initiative (MLR), health insurance companies and HMOs must spend the majority of their collected premiums (80-85 percent) on actual medical care instead of profits. Companies who do not meet the profit requirements are to send the extra money back to the consumers.
The Value-Based Purchasing program will link a hospital’s payment to the cost and quality of services that they provide in the Medicare system. Hospital performance statistics must be made public for measures relating to heart attacks, surgical care, patients’ quality of care and more. The law aims to reward hospitals with better payment for quality care.
From Paperwork to Electronic Records
Health care is one of the few industries still dependent on paper and ink. In the fall the law will kick off a series of changes to implement electronic health records as the new standard. By moving away from paper, the plan is to reduce paperwork, cut costs, and reduce errors.
When looking for the right health insurance plan for your individual needs, it may be more important than ever to have an experienced agent on your side. Your Nevin and Witt agent will tell you exactly what you need to know to make an educated decision on what health insurance plan is right for you. And as the tide of health care reform ebbs and flows, our full-time customer service agents will be there to answer any questions about your policy. If you would like to speak with an agent about health insurance plans, call us at 1-800-247-9889.