Are hospitals prepared for influx of exchange patients?

Hospitals may not be prepared for the influx of patients through the state health insurance exchanges, according to a new study by PwC's Health Research Institute.

"The coming year will be a testing period for health systems with money available for those that can effectively attract, manage and retain the wave of exchange patients," said the report. Indeed, many health policy experts believe hospitals will play a key role in enrolling individuals in the exchanges.

Yet the report cited healthcare reform "fatigue," noting that "health systems expended considerable energy urging states to fully expand Medicaid while also fighting at the national level against budget cuts."

In the meantime, hospitals and healthcare systems are in the midst of negotiating contracts with insurers who are selling exchange-based coverage.

And while indusry experts note that hospitals are the biggest focal point of information for consumers regarding the Affordable Care Act, a survey by PwC concluded that only 44 percent of insurers have conducted provider readiness assessments, and only 34 percent said they have had discussions with hospital financial guidance counselors about enrollment options.

Moreover, PwC noted that the five largest healthcare systems in the U.S. have yet to post any information about the ACA on their websites of use to consumers.

To learn more:
- read the PwC study (registration required)

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