As the New Year begins, many healthcare providers are seeing only a slight increase in patients due to ObamaCare.
“More than 2 million people have signed up for new private health plans that took effect on Wednesday under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. While some of those consumers were already lining up doctor visits last month, early reports from providers and an online medical booking service show the demand for care has been modest so far.” Reuters, January 6, 2014
There may be many reasons for seeing only a slight increase in patients. Since many patients only just recently signed up for these new insurance plans, patients are still locating doctors who are covered by their insurance plans. Also, with the well publisied “glitches” in healthcare.gov, some patients have not yet received their insurance cards and other information.
Interestingly, some practices have decided to wait to file claims on patients that have signed up for the new insurance. Due to the technical difficulties of the health exchanges, healthcare providers fear that many of their claims will simply be rejected if submitted now. While this is certainly not a good long term strategy, it might be wise in the short run.
Another indicator which is contrary to predictions is that the newly insured patient do not appear to be “sicker” than the prior patient base. Healthcare providers are finding that the majority of new patients are signing up for preventive care visits in January and February.
Of course, many of these indicators may change in the coming months. The current deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act is March 31, 2014 so patients still have 3 months to sign up for health insurance.
All healthcare providers should be monitoring these changes and making any adjustments necessary to accommodate these new patients as time passes.
Tell us what strategies your practice is using in 2014 to accommodate patients? Share your ideas with us by clicking on the comment button below. We’d love to hear from you.
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