The Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, was signed into law in the United States in 2010 to provide better health insurance coverage for Americans and reduce the overall cost of health care (Courtemanche et al., 2018). The reform required all Americans to buy health insurance and, in return, promised subsidies for the poor. The law did not increase competition among insurers, and the influx of new patients required to buy insurance only inflated prices. Thus, the Affordable Care Act passage can be called one of the most debated events related to the American health care industry. In this paper, I would like to discuss the impact of this law on stakeholders, namely consumers, employers, and doctors.
Stakeholders Impacted by ACA
The first group of stakeholders is health care consumers or clinic patients. For them, the effect of the law is most significant and tangible. This is primarily because they are the group that the law initially targeted. The plan to enforce the law is to reduce the number of uninsured by several times throughout implementing the new insurance rules. As a result, consumers are greatly influenced, both positively and negatively.
Another stakeholder group I would like to consider is employers. Regardless of the company’s size or the staff, employers have had to change insurance policies for their employees. This applies to both the core staff and the various affiliated members of the company (Michener, 2020). Now that all employees have been formally required to be insured, employers have faced many consequences. This included changes in personnel policies because the size of the workforce became directly dependent on the ability to provide insurance.
The third stakeholder group is doctors themselves, who are responsible for delivering health care services. With the implementation of the new insurance policy, they have had to integrate to provide higher quality and lower-cost care. A bundled payment system went into effect to incentivize the provision of efficient and quality patient care, which also had an impact on doctors’ working conditions. For example, to increase access to primary care and preventive health care services, primary care physicians have changed the way they are paid and receive bonuses.
Financial Impact of ACA on Stakeholders
The law’s financial impact on clients is primarily because healthcare consumers have different income levels and treatment needs. Thus, given the heterogeneity of consumers according to the indicators mentioned above, the law’s financial impact is highly diverse. What has affected all groups of health care consumers are significant changes in the number of uninsured people and the introduction of penalties for not having insurance (Daw & Sommers, 2019). Thus, if a person has no need to purchase insurance, he is left owing the state a fine for something that is not essentially his fault. In general, the changes vary by age group and are relatively positive for low-income families and young patients, who are considered privileged populations.
The financial impact on employers is mainly the need to adopt new rules regarding employee insurance coverage. Their implementation has led to varying increases in the cost of insurance plans depending on the company’s size. Thus, hiring strategies also began to change as the cost per employee increased in proportion to the total number of employees. This may have indirectly affected the efficiency of companies that were used to operating with a certain number of people on staff.
As for the providers themselves, introducing the new insurance law has had a significant impact on the demand for qualified professionals in this industry. The change in demand for specialists has led to a destabilization of the salary level for workers in many medical institutions (Smith & Field, 2019). In addition, the scope of services also changed as many more people needed a standard insurance package. Some doctors have had to provide more services for the same salary, which has harmed their financial situation.
Benefits of ACA to All Stakeholder Groups
Increased Access to the Provision of Medical Services
The first advantage of the new law for all stakeholder groups is the increased access to the provision of medical services. First and foremost, this is a benefit for the patient group of clinics and other consumers of medical services. For example, people under the age of twenty-six can use their parents’ insurance plans (Morris et al., 2019). For health care workers themselves, this benefit means greater employment opportunities. As the access to services has become more widespread, newly educated nurses have more opportunities to find well-paying jobs. For employers, more open access to health care services means that some individual insurance options are becoming more accessible.
The second benefit is the empowerment of the health care community. This means relaxing the framework and rules for using health insurance for services consumers. For example, the law prohibits restrictions on insurance based on pre-existing health conditions, which benefits working-age patients. Health care providers benefit because of increased opportunities to collaborate with the community. The positive change is that the insurance law favors smaller companies regarding employers. Under it, businesses with fewer than fifty full-time employees are not required to offer insurance.
Drawbacks of ACA to All Stakeholder Groups
Increased Patients Flow
The first disadvantage is the increased flow of health care clients due to compulsory insurance. This situation negatively affects patients because some of them cannot get the care they need in time because of the overload of GP appointments (Moniz & Gorin, 2018). Thus, people who need to be seen can spend several days waiting in line for an appointment. For nurses, this situation means a high risk of burnout and overwork, which negatively affects their psychological state. As for employers, the above disadvantage increases the time it takes for all employees to go through the insurance process, which will result in financial losses.
A second disadvantage for all concerned is the penalties for not having insurance. This is especially true for services consumers because people can be fined for not purchasing insurance plans. Thus, health care costs for some categories of people would increase significantly. On the part of the medical staff, it is noted that the introduction of compulsory insurance has caused an increase in the number of patients who are not sufficiently educated about their condition. Thus, the physician’s job is significantly burdened by the need for educational sessions with the patient. Regarding employers, the introduction of penalties for not ensuring employees could seriously affect the financial stability of some companies that employ more than fifty people and need resources to continue to grow.
In summary, introducing the law on compulsory insurance has both positive and negative consequences for all stakeholders. Nevertheless, a common disadvantage for them is the destabilization of the financial situation due to individual factors, and merit is more affordable medicine. Thus, it can be noted that every health policy has both positive and negative aspects, but the most important thing is the fulfillment of the ultimate goal. I believe that the law has fulfilled its purpose because health care services have become more distributed and accessible with it.
Courtemanche, C., Marton, J., Ukert, B., Yelowitz, A., & Zapata, D. (2018). Effects of the Affordable Care Act on health care access and self-assessed health after 3 years. The journal of health care organization, provision, and financing, 1(3), 27-43. Web.
Daw, J. R., & Sommers, B. D. (2019). The Affordable Care Act and access to care for reproductive-aged and pregnant women in the United States, 2010–2016. American journal of public health, 109(4), 565-571. Web.
Michener, J. (2020). Race, politics, and the Affordable Care Act. Journal of health politics, policy, and law, 45(4), 547–566. Web.
Morris, J. C., Mayer, M. K., Kenter, R. C., & Lucero, L. M. (2019). State politics and the Affordable Care Act: Choices and decisions. Routledge. Web.
Moniz, C. D., & Gorin, S.H. (2018). Health care policy and practice: A biopsychosocial perspective (5th Ed). Routledge. Web.
Smith, B., & Field, L. (2019). Nursing care: An essential guide for nurses and healthcare workers in primary and secondary care (3rd Ed.). Routledge. Web.