Affordable Care Act: What it means for my practice.

 

In January of 2014 the Affordable Care Act will supposedly begin to have an effect on the practice of medicine in the United States.  There are numerous blogs and posts on the internet about how to best prepare for this event as a consumer and physician.  I find this interesting since no one really knows how this will effect medical payments to physicians, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and pharmacies.  There has been no communication with physicians about joining some “Obamacare” network of providers.  There is no insurance plan to participate with under this Act.  The huge internet failure was said to be due to the number of people signing up for the Affordable Care Act Plan.  I have one comment about that:  this Act was made to help something like 20 million Americans that do not have access to health care.  First of all we have a County Hospital System whose mission it is to provide care to those who do not have insurance, thus providing care to everyone in need.  As a physician working part-time in a Community Health District/County Hospital System I can tell you that most of these 20 million Americans lacking access to health care do not have a computer.  The people this Act was designed to help are not the ones who are signing up.  I’m not even going into the mental health issues that plague this population and prevents them from seeking medical care.

So what is going to happen.  I will predict that some physicians will participate with whatever plan develops under the Affordable Care Act and other physicians will not.  Some will accept insurance and some will accept cash for services.  Most of the people in poverty will not sign up for “the plan” because they just won’t know how.  It will not help those it was designed to help and will ultimately fail, in about a decade or two, going back to a similar system to what we have at this time.  What are we going to do about it?  Nothing!  Dr. Geller will still treat patients with foot and ankle deformity and pain.  If surgery is your best option, I will recommend surgery.  If insurance will not allow us to do surgery I will work with you to resolve your problem the best we can.  Your bunions and hammertoes will not have to go untreated.  Your heel pain will go away with treatment.

What do I recommend you do about this?  Wait!!  You should never be the first to sign up for an experimental plan.  Wait it out and see what becomes of the Affordable Care Act before you change.  Six months, a year, whatever works best for you.  Desert Foot Surgeons will still be here to help you with your foot care needs.