Why physicians are thankful for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought its share of challenges to physicians. But the healthcare reform law's effect on physicians hasn't all been negative, according to an article from Medical Economics.

Here are three ways physicians told the publication that expanded insurance access has changed their practices for the better:

  • Enhanced ability to get patients needed care. Overall, it's been a relief to treat more patients who are insured, said Robert Wergin, M.D., board chairman of the American Association of Family Physicians. Because the marketplace has made insurance more affordable, Wergin, who practices in rural Nebraska, has been able to refer one of his low-income patients with complications from childhood polio, for example, for care he'd previously had to forego. "You should have seen the relief on his face," Wergin said. "And it allowed us to have him see a pulmonologist and make other adjustments to his treatment that changed his life. I believe he'll live longer and do better because of this."
  • Catching more chronic disease. Now that most preventive care is available without cost-sharing, more people are getting chronic diseases diagnosed and addressed, according to Salvatore S. Volpe, M.D., a New-York based primary care physician and chief medical officer of the Staten Island Performing Provider System. A recent study from Health Affairs also found that the insured are more likely to have chronic diseases discovered and under better control, FiercePracticeManagement reported previously.
  • Cautious consumerism. After years of frustration that patients didn't really understand their insurance coverage, practices find that patients are better informed and more careful about what they spend on healthcare--sometimes to a fault. While Wergin said he's been able to help patients "work around" the limitations of their insurance benefits to an extent, experts agree that the paradigm has shifted to give physicians some responsibility in helping patients factor financial concerns as part of shared decision-making.

To learn more:
- read the article