Affordable Care Act or Obamacare became law in 2010. The new law was created to reduce health care costs for all Americans by regulating the health insurance industry and reducing spending in healthcare. The law has not yet fully implemented, but the effects of its implementation are visible.
The Act contains over a thousand pages of reforms aimed at reducing healthcare costs and providing affordable health insurance to every American by reforming the insurance and health care industry. Even though Obamacare intends to make health care accessible and affordable to all, there are ways it could result in making healthcare more expensive.
In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the merger of two hospitals, the Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Corporation and Highland Park Hospital, and found how the hospitals were using Obamacare to gain more “leverage” and “negotiating posture”. The merger was not aimed at increasing efficiency and improving the quality of patient care, as claimed, but was done to gain a monopoly and increase overall profits.
After the merger, the fees the hospitals charged to insurers leaped. According to UniCare, an insurer, the fee hiked from 7% to 30% for its health maintenance organizations and 80% for preferred provider organizations. The merger limited the choices of insurers and concentrates markets that result in higher costs and monopoly. If Obamacare encourages hospitals to merge and raise costs, it might inverse the aim of the new law.
According to sources, more than 44 million Americans do not have health insurance. Obamacare is the most important overhaul of the health care system after the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The law includes facilities, such as subsidies, and tax credits and mandates to make it easier for employers and individuals to get coverage, but if the markets begin to behave differently, it will be the consumers who will pay a higher price.
The threat of big hospitals merging to monopolize the market might be reduced by retail clinics. According to a report by the global consulting firm Accenture, there might be a flood of retail clinics in the near future to absorb the rush of newly insured patients. Even though retail clinics will not be able to provide help for complex medical cases, they will share the responsibility of simple cases.
As some of the law’s most important provisions take effect in 2014, the boom of retail clinics gives competition to hospitals and primary care physicians. According to estimates, new retail clinics might grow to 3,000 and absorb as many as 10.8 million patients per year by 2015.
Some speculate that Obamacare will collapse as soon as it gets fully implemented. Even though it is too early to judge the new law that harshly, many of the limitations of the law will be revealed after its implementation.