by Terri Ottosen, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region
We all know that there have been some issues with the health insurance exchange rollout and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare.” Implementation has been troubled and confusing for many trying to understand and/or enroll in a health plan. Adding to the confusion, there seems to be a lot of misinformation or myths surrounding the ACA. Many professionals in the health care arena are weighing in on what the ACA means for patients and what all of these changes in health care will bring in the future. No matter what your politics or views of the PPACA are, it is becoming increasingly clear that sweeping changes are occurring that will have a significant impact on what the future of health care looks like in this country.
The optimistic think that the changes will help the health care system make even greater strides towards patient-centered care by engaging the patient and helping individuals be an active part of their health care team. In a paper from the urban Institute, on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the authors discuss how the ACA “places new emphasis on measuring patients’ experiences of care and using that information to improve care.” The law itself uses general terms to describe quality measures, but increasingly patient-centered assessments such as patient satisfaction, patient experience of care, patient engagement, and shared decision-making will be the new measure of quality health care. To read the full report, please visit the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation page: http://www.rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2012/03/will-the-affordable-care-act-move-patient-centeredness-to-center.html
Of course there are those working actively to repeal the ACA and it’s important that we all, as health care consumers, arm ourselves with the facts so that we can make those necessary health care decisions. Here are a few select sites that address the myths surrounding health reform.
1) White House – Get the Facts Straight on Health Reform: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/myths-and-facts
2) AARP: Your Guide to the Health Care Law: http://www.aarp.org/health/affordable-care-act/?intcmp=AE-HEA-IL-ACA-HLF
3) FactCheck.Org – Obamacare Myths: http://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/obamacare-myths/
4) Media Matters: 15 Myths the Media Should Ignore During Obamacare Implementation: http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/10/01/15-myths-the-media-should-ignore-during-obamaca/196181
Even as patient engagement seems to be “in” right now as the catchphrase of the moment, the idea that patients and providers act as partners in managing individuals’ health is not going to go away. Personally, I think it’s a myth that patients aren’t really interested in engaging in their own health care. There are many signs that this movement toward patient-centered and patient-driven health care is gaining momentum and that can only mean good things for all of us in the future.