The big question coming in 2018 is how will providers respond to the growing financial squeeze in the healthcare industry? The increasing pressure is political, economic and patient-based.
There could be significant financial impacts due to the changing healthcare landscape, including:
•Politics, providers and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
•Value-based reimbursement and patient health outcomes
•Patient collaboration and communication
The heavy thumb of politics lingers as the news about the ACA changes daily. For now, total repeal of the ACA appears highly unlikely. But next week or next month? It's anyone's guess as to what will happen and when, and the effect it may have on providers, patients, and payers.
Recently, the administration canceled payments to insurers intended to defray some costs for low-income Americans. In turn, many state attorneys general got involved to challenge what they viewed as a potentially negative impact.
The payments were intended to help fund premiums and other healthcare-related expenses for some low-income Americans. The result could be more insurers leaving the ACA marketplace, increasing costs for taxpayers, fewer healthcare choices, and more changes.
One immediate concern is that the financial crunch could trickle down to physicians who already contend with non-payment pressures. A study by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found 43 percent of adults with health insurance say they have trouble paying deductibles. Moreover, about 33 percent have difficulty paying premiums. Once the patient gets to the doctor's office, the money problems continue with 29 percent of adults reporting they have problems paying medical bills.
Will these numbers increase as ACA subsidies decrease? It certainly seems possible, but only time will tell.