Obamacare 2013: Accent on Access
Ease of access, emphasis on preventing illnesses and more federal dollars paid to doctors instead of hospitals are the hallmarks of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to be phased in next year.
Beginning Jan. 1 provisions of the act kick in that will open doorways to the nation's new health care system, which is based on quality outcomes, not fees for services.
The new requirements begin to shift the emphasis from hospitalization to prevention, encouraging the family doctor to be the first health care step.
A key provision of the Affordable Care Act went into effect on Oct. 1, when the law established a hospital value-based purchasing program in Medicare. This program offers financial incentives to hospitals to improve the quality of care. Hospital performance is required to be publicly reported, beginning with measures relating to heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, health care associated infections, and patients' perception of care.
Four provisions that go into effect on Jan. 1 drive the transformation of the U.S. health care system from payment for services to payment for results. The four new requirements are:
Push preventive health: To expand the number of Americans receiving preventive care, new funding is provided to state Medicaid programs that choose to cover preventive services for patients at little or no cost.