The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a federal statute that aimed to become the biggest overhaul to the health care system of the United States since Medicare and Medicaid. The purpose of the statute was to improve health care outcomes, lower expenses, and make health care more accessible. It aimed to resolve some of the issues that plagued the health care industry, for example, the area of medical insurance, making it more affordable and increasing its quality, as well as improving upon public and private insurance, in order to reduce the numbers of people without it (Hood, 2012).
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This research paper will focus on the Act itself, as well as the health care organizations, policies, and improvements to medical communications that it brought with it.
Affordable Care Act
Health Care Organizations
The Act introduced a number of structural changes to the health care organizations. It stimulated the formation of accountable care organizations by the health providers. The purpose of these changes was to move the healthcare away from customers paying for quantity, and towards paying for quality as well as to increase the integration and interprofessional communication between different health care services.
The law also led to the inception of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which is funded by insurers and carries out comparative effectiveness research. Another initiative instigated by the law was the creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, whose purpose is to fund cost-reducing healthcare programs.
Health Care Policies
The Act was designed to achieve better and more cost-efficient patient care through improved methods of distribution, the financial transformation of hospitals’ and doctors’ practices, technological innovation, and enhanced clinical practices.
This goal was meant to be achieved through incentives for methods to reduce the number of infections contracted from the environment or staff in the hospitals, and episode-based payments, which were meant to coordinate care and put quality above quantity (Bodenheimer & Grumbach 2012b).
As mentioned before, the key regulation introduced by the Affordable Care Act was the health insurance mandate which made health insurance a requirement for all US citizens, enforceable by the federal government. It achieved these goals by increasing the number of categories of people eligible for Medicaid and by introducing state-based insurance exchanges, with subsidies for people living in poverty (Estes & Williams, 2013; Bodenheimer & Grumbach 2012a).
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One of the provisions in the law created additional insurance coverage for screenings and preventive care for women, including contraceptives and patient education.
Health Information Exchange
One of the areas touched by the Affordable Care Act is the Health Information Exchange. As part of the programs focusing on new, improved models of both payments and provision of services, the Act adds a focus on accelerating Health Information Exchange. A major part of his acceleration is the introduction of better interprofessional communication and collaboration, as well as enhancement of the communications technologies, strategies, and policies, for better coordination between different areas of healthcare.
The consequences of introducing the act and the reaction to it have changed a lot in the years that followed. It is clear that it has massively improved the accessibility of health insurance and care services to the general population. This was originally hampered by inefficiencies in the insurance provision systems, and the insurance companies having to adapt very quickly to new policies. As mentioned before, the Act has also encouraged the establishment of accountable care organizations and the introduction of strategies to increase the allure of primary care as a career.
Despite initial problems, it is clear that a lot of the issues are slowly being resolved, and that while there are still obstacles that need to be addressed, for example, the need for more physicians, the program is already a landmark law in the US history, and is improving the health care for the better.
Bodenheimer, T., & Grumbach, K. (2012a). Acess to Health Care. In Understanding Health policy: A Clinical Approach (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Bodenheimer, T., & Grumbach, K. (2012b). Mechanisms for Controlling Costs. In Understanding Health policy: A Clinical Approach (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Estes, C. L., & Williams, E. (2013). Health policy: Crisis and reform. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Hood, V. L. (2012). The Present and Future of the Affordable Care Act. Web.