For doctors, patients and institutional providers alike, the activation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been widely regarded with uncertainty and trepidation. While much coverage has been devoted to how the new law’s provisions could affect patients and insurance companies throughout the United States, decidedly less focus has been given to the impact it could have on medical practitioners. Although the end result is far from certain, it may ultimately be a mixed bag for medical practices throughout the country.
The Affordable Care Act could affect primary care providers in the following ways:
- Increased patient pool — One of the most frequently touted benefits for the medical profession is the simple fact that more people with insurance means more paying customers for doctors. The other side to this coin, however, is that the increased workload — including not only new patients but existing patients who start demanding more services — could be overwhelming for some providers.
- Parity — One of the chief reasons why some doctors hesitated to take on patients with Medicaid was that government-authorized payments for services were often much less than what a doctor could receive from other patients for the same service. New regulations aim to increase these payments for certain providers, at least temporarily, in order to give doctors greater incentive to take on Medicaid patients. This could result in significant income increases for some medical practices.
- Collection difficulties — Medical practices may face some difficulties collecting payment from patients who sign up for insurance but never make the first premium payment. Likewise, doctors may struggle with some patients who fail to appreciate that having health insurance does not necessarily relieve them from all personal financial responsibility for treatment.
Staying in compliance as a medical practitioner can be daunting. Consulting with an experienced Jacksonville healthcare lawyer, or a Jacksonville attorney practicing in the area of physicians' legal services, can help you better understand your obligations and prevent costly compliance issues from arising.
Jacksonville, Florida healthcare attorney Andrea Jevic also contributed to this blog post.