AffordableCare Act and Healthcare Demand
The”Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” or Affordable Care Actor simply Obamacare is the most comprehensive healthcare reform inthe United States since the ratification of the Medicare and Medicaidin the mid-1960s. President Obama administrationintroducedthe statute in 2010, and was later amended by the “Health Care andEducation Reconciliation Act”. The provisions of the new law havehad far-reaching impacts on the health care system, health careinstitutions and facilities as well as medical care workers(Morrisey, 2014). It has resulted in changes in clinical practices,financial management and the role of technology in different aspectsof the provision of medical services with an aim of increasingaccessibility, reducing cost, and enhancing health outcomes (Press,2013). The most important impact of Obamacare is on the quality andaccessibility of health care insurance. The statute aims at expandingcoverage through the public funded health insurance as well asenhancing private coverage through exchanges, subsidies, andmandates. For example, the law requires that private programs shouldoffer equal insurance coverage to all individuals regardless of theirpreexisting conditions, age or gender. Additionally, the legislationseeks to expand the Medicaid program, but some states have challengedthe decision by the federal government to force them to changeeligibility. The courts have ruled that the federal government has nomandate in cutting Medicaid funding to states which are unwilling toexpand the program (Press, 2013).
Oneof the most significant long-term impacts of Obamacare is theexpected increase in the demand for healthcare services in the UnitedStates, especially from accountable care organizations. The largernumber of patients seeking specialized medical services due to healthinsurance coverage and affordability will be worsened by the shortageof medical workers and the emergence of new medical challenges(Morrisey, 2014). Consequently, it will take an increasingly longertime for a patient to be attended by a medical worker in a facility.Also, the crowding of the emergency services will have some impactson the system. This can be explained by the fact that the eligibilityfor Medicaid has been expanded, and there are increased benefits inthe private health insurance (Anderson, 2016).
Themain reason why Obamacare will result in changes in the demand forspecialized health care services is its impacts on health insurancecoverage. For example, in 2014 alone, it is estimated that up toeleven million previously uninsured individuals had access toinsurance coverage. This is due to the impacts of these reforms. Themain aim of the law is to protect the patients financially,especially due changes in the cost of medical services. However, theincreased accessibility and affordability of these services hasresulted in an increase in demand. Actuaries have estimated that ifadequate measures are put in place to deal with the staffing issues,the anticipated change in demand due to the expanded medical coveragewill not significantly strain the health care system (Glied & Ma,2015). It is expected that there will be an impact on all aspects ofhealth care spending, but the cost of prescribed drugs and outpatientservices will be the most affected. This is due to the rise in thecost of medical supplies experienced in the recent past. Inpatientservices are likely to be unaffected by health coverage, althoughother issues such as an aging population and emerging terminaldiseases will affect their demand. It is anticipated that there willbe additional 15 to 26 million primary visits to health carefacilities annually. To deal with these changes, more primary caremedical professionals, mainly primary physicians and nursepractitioners in accountable care organizations will be required. Thestates will be affected by the increase in demand differentlydepending on the characteristics of the population and the expansionof Medicaid program (Glied & Ma, 2015).
Accordingto Forbes report by Christensen (2016), the demand for building andoffice space to accommodate medical services center, especiallyprimary care and ambulatory services is an indication of the increasein demand for more customer-friendly health care services. There is atrend in both private and public health care institutions to locatetheir services where the patients are located. Newly insured Americanare seeking specialized and customized services from urgent carecenters, doctors offices, and other accountable care organizationslocated away from the hospital facilities, due to the provisions ofthe Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the demand from ambulatoryservices is encouraged by the adoption of pay for value system asopposed to the traditional fee for services system (Christensen,2016).
Theincreased demand for health care services as a resulted of insurancecoverage by public and private insurance program has policyimplications. The principle reasons for the health care reforms wereto enhance accessibility and outcomes of medical services. Thechanges in demand suggest that there are strides towards theachievement of this objective. Nonetheless, there are concerns overthe growing shortage of health care workers, the likelihood of thedemand straining the system and possible unethical practices that canemerge as a result of the changes in the market (Morrisey, 2014).There is confidence that the system will be able to absorb thesechanges. Despite this, overload is unavoidable in some circumstances.In the short run, the excitement associated with subsidized and freemedical services will probably overwhelm the health care system asmore previously uninsured individuals gain access to healthinsurance. Consequently, it will impact negatively on the currentmedical personnel’s workload, which is already overstretched. Theproblem is aggravated by the regulation burdens that have imposedpenalties on practitioners and facilities (Glied & Ma, 2015).
TheObamacare has also introduced regulations that are aimed at ensuringthat the changes in demand for services are not as a result ofunethical and unscrupulous activities by hospitals and medicalworkers. For example, hospitals with high rates of readmissions aresubject to penalties. They are applicable when patients arereadmitted to a facility immediately after being discharged, whichmay be caused by inadequate care and planning. The incentives havereduced readmissions incidences significantly. Additionally, theAffordable Care Act has introduced accountability among health careorganization and professionals. The provisions of the law providehealth care facilities with incentives to provide high quality andefficient services through the pay for value as opposed to the feefor service system of reimbursement, thus creating accountable careorganizations (Furman, 2013).
Inconclusion, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is a comprehensivehealth care reform that has an impact on all aspects of the system.As a result of an expanded health insurance coverage, the demand forspecialized medical services has increased. However, experts haveargued that it will not lead to serious pressure on the system ifother emerging issues are handled efficiently.
Anderson,A. (2016). TheImpact of the Affordable Care Act on the Health Care Workforce.http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/the-impact-of-the-affordable-care-act-on-the-health-care-workforce
Christensen,J. (2016). Doctorshortage, increased demand could crash health care system.http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/02/health/obamacare-doctor-shortage/
Glied,S. & Ma, S. (2015). HowWill the Affordable Care Act Affect the Use of Health Care Services?The Commonwealth Fund, Issue Brief February 2015,http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/files/publications/issue-brief/2015/feb/1804_glied_how_will_aca_affect_use_hlt_care_svcs_ib_v2.pdf?la=en
Furman,J. (2013). TheRecent Slowdown in Health Care Cost Growth and the Role of theAffordable Care Act.Executive Office of the President,https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/healthcostreport_final_noembargo_v2.pdf
Morrisey,M. (2014). Healthinsurance.Chicago, Illinois: Health Administration Press.
Press,Z. (2013). ObamaCareSimplified A Clear Guide to Making ObamaCare Work for You.Berkeley: Zephyros Press.