As we empowered patients turn the corner into 2013, there are changes on the healthcare horizon we need to be aware of. Some require action on our parts to prevent problems. Others are simply benefits we need to know about so we can take advantage of them. All changes are based on shifts in the way the business of healthcare is being done.
Find action steps for each of the following:
• ObamaCare - The Affordable Care Act - What's New in 2013 (see below)
The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) - What's New in 2013
Now that the Affordable Care Act has cleared its highest hurdles, there is no stopping its implementation. Smart patients know what to expect, what to beware of, and how the ACA will help them. This includes the big shifts that were actually implemented in 2012 that will affect us in 2013, and which we need to understand in order to get the good care we deserve.
- Medicaid patients will find the biggest changes individually. The numbers of doctors who accept Medicaid patients will likely grow because their reimbursements will be higher than they were before. The ACA puts payments for Medicaid patients on par with those made for Medicare beginning in 2013.
For Medicare patients, that new reimbursement structure is a mixed blessing. That means many more patients will be eligible to see the same doctors (see Primary Care Problems). And, since reimbursements are quite low for Medicare needs to begin with, that "on par" is a relative term.
- Hospitalized patients will find their treatment may improve - at least as far as communications go. (There is no anticipation that the numbers of medical errors will be reduced.) Beginning in late 2012, hospitals found their reimbursements from Medicare were affected by the satisfaction of surveyed patients - the more satisfied the patients, and the better their track records for those patients, the more money those hospitals were paid. Learn more about these surveys and how you can affect a hospital's reimbursement.
- Preventive medicine as a goal has been elevated with the new healthcare law. From free preventive screening tests, to better pay for doctors who perform them, patients will find it easier to stay on top of their health to prevent problems before they happen.
- Later in the year, we will begin seeing and hearing more about the new insurance exchanges that are being developed in some states, we will learn more about what the requirements will be for fulfilling the individual mandate to purchase insurance, and what the penalties will be if we do not have insurance as of January 1, 2014.