Maybe It’s Time to Quit Calling it “Obamacare”
With the Supreme Court ruling 6-3 to uphold a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act, it’s time to accept that this law is the law. Instead of blaming (or crediting) President Obama with this law and labeling it “Obamacare,” let’s move on. It’s the ACA, and it’s the official way we’re moving forward.
This law, which was passed by both the Senate and the House, determines how many millions of Americans will obtain some level of health insurance coverage, and its provisions establish the parameters for how much they will pay for this coverage.
You could argue that there’s still plenty of blame to go around for the way the bill was actually written, revised, and never adequately reconciled between the Senate and the House… The bill itself is complex, lengthy, and murky. However flawed, the ACA definitively establishes a framework—now twice upheld by the Supreme Court—that sets the rules and precedent for Payers and Providers.
All parties are starting to figure out how to live with and within the law. Consumers are navigating the ACA website or as is often the case, finding assistance to do so; either way, more Americans are seeking and obtaining coverage. Payers are adjusting their rates as they gain experience about the mix of people who sign up while they continue to analyze what medical services are most in demand. And providers are now factoring this new reality into their planning and budgeting.
With lots of trade-offs and compromises, the major parties in the healthcare industry ended up supporting the bill; most heaved a sigh of relief that the Supreme Court ruled as it did.
All in all, we’re moving on—and that’s a good thing.
Now is the time to improve this program to reflect the needs of patients AND highlight the capabilities of America’s robust healthcare system. With patients, providers and suppliers alike asking “what does this mean for me?” we have a few suggestions:
To reduce the level of confusion among the choices, payers could reduce the number of plans they choose to offer. To help consumers make better choices, providers can continue to offer new buying channels—such as retail locations and mobile vans—to complement what’s available through their websites and call centers. And to reach underserved groups, networks can participate even more actively with community-based organizations and events.
It’s been rewarding for us to be involved in conducting research with various types of consumers who are eligible for coverage under the law and to help our clients understand how to better devise and communicate their offerings. Understandably, many consumers are still confused by the complexity of sorting through the choices, but they are gaining experience and are becoming more informed buyers. At the same time, providers are becoming more nimble at delivering value-based care in the new environment.
The ACA has been validated. Let’s honor it: let’s get to work.