What Doctors Should Know About the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 is ushering in major changes to the health care sector in 2014, when most of its provisions will come into effect. There are some significant changes that physicians and physician groups should prepare for:

  • A shift from private practice to medical networks: In recent years, an increasing number of doctors have moved from private practices to larger practices, or ones owned by hospitals, so they can pool resources and save on administration costs.
  • Conversion to electronic medical records: The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provides billions in Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for physicians who adopt electronic medical records and can demonstrate their systems enhance patient care. Although most doctors currently use electronic health records and have security and privacy protections in place, many are using technology that is outdated. According to U.S. News, “improving the usability of electronic health records can help prevent dangerous or even fatal mistakes.” In the context of electronic records, providers must be mindful of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which creates privacy protections for patients’ medical information. If patients’ confidential information is leaked, it can put them at risk for identity theft and adversely affect their lives.
  • Changes in payment collection: The number of people with health insurance in the U.S. will likely increase, since the ACA mandates the purchase of insurance. Accordingly, many doctors will have additional patients. Health Care providers will want to create more efficient payment systems to keep their administrative costs down. For example, medical practices can keep patients’ credit card information on file (with the consent of the patient), and use electronic billing that allows bills to be paid online.

Compliance with the Affordable Care Act and other health care laws can be challenging for health care providers. An experienced health care attorney can provide skilled legal guidance to ensure your business complies with all relevant regulations.

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Posted in: Regulation