As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act this week, I wonder about the hidden benefits of the law, particularly its focus on preventative health care. Many are arguing that this is where Americans will save the biggest bucks. CBS’ special focus on preventative health care highlights “Accountable Care Organizations” that “aggressively monitor patient health” in order to lower costs — saving, systemwide, a project $960 million over 3 years. This is not small change — and these dollars loom large in a debate rife with concerns about costs for health administrators and “consumers” alike.
This historic legislation in healthcare and insurance reform is not only what we saw so many fiery debates about in the months leading up to its passage — now exactly two years ago — but also, what had been long in the coming, after decades (upon decades) of efforts to approach healthcare more comprehensively in America. What this would or should look like of course was — and is — under intense scrutiny (corners were cut, and huge compromises made, no matter your perspective). In the now unfolding aftermath of the bill’s passage, leading to this week’s Supreme Court hearings about the constitutionality of the bill, can stakeholders rally around a common net good? Can the renewed focus on preventative health care bring together disparate parties, who have otherwise disagreed?
1) Health administrators — in Accountable Care Organizations, if patients are kept healthy and out of the hospital, the ACO gets to keep a portion of the money they saved
2) Patients — health outcomes are better, because patients are receiving more active and proactive care
3) Citizens — people who aren’t currently experiencing health crisis/problems can still get behind the idea of reducing costs for those with chronic/serious illness (where the bulk of healthcare expenses come from)
4) Employers — keeping people healthy means reduced healthcare costs in covering current and potential employees
5) Insurance — what’s in it for insurance companies? Prior to reform, patients did not seek preventative healthcare — often because of costs.
This gets to the heart of the debate, for me — how do we promote health versus fight, police, and treat disease? Where do you see room for consensus — rather than simply compromise?