opinion

Doctors, patients have yet to fully figure out the Affordable Care Act

Connected coverage — selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine.

Posted June 24, 2013

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The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, and set to go into full effect in 2014 after years of it being put into place gradually. Yet despite all that time, a lot of physicians and patients are unclear on many of the particulars of the ACA — perhaps not surprising, given it's a lengthy law that makes sweeping changes to the U.S. health care system.

American Medical News has written numerous stories detailing the law and how it works. Among those are pieces that put a spotlight on efforts to educate doctors and patients about what the ACA is all about.

How well do physicians know the ACA?

Doctors know the Affordable Care Act is resulting in a lot of changes, but some experts say physicians are underestimating how much they will be affected by the biggest overhaul to the health system since Medicare was passed in 1965.

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Preventive care coverage unknown to many patients

Various surveys find significant percentages of patients not realizing what preventive care benefits are available to them under the ACA, and that has put pressure on doctors — who are being counted on to emphasize such care — to explain the covered services during hectic office visits.

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Tale of two exchanges poses mystery to doctors

Under the ACA, every state will have a health insurance exchange, where individuals can buy coverage. But how those health plans look will vary by state. For doctors, this means who is insuring their patients, and what coverage beyond federal minimums they will get, will likely be unknown before 2014.

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