Affordable Care Act and Technology

Affordable Care Act and Technology

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In March of 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act that would be a new statute in the United States that would be rolled out over the next few years and would completely change the outlook of healthcare.  From 2010 to 2020 numerous provisions are put into effect and several existing policies are to be affected.  With the provisions in the Affordable Care Act being enforced there is a significant impact on the health IT side of things as well.

In order to understand how the provisions are affecting health IT, one must have  a general understanding of the Affordable Care Act.  The Affordable Care Act is designed to provide individuals who do not have a health benefits plan or employers who do not offer their workforce a benefits plan, an increased access to health coverage and to provide new protections for people who do.

Several different areas of the law have already been rolled out and several more are set to happen within the next few years.  Some of the important parts of the law that are in effect right now are:

  • Young adults can stay on their parent’s health plan up to age 26
  • Insurance companies can’t deny health coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions
  • Insurance companies can’t place dollar limits on the health care they cover in your lifetime
  • Some small businesses with fewer than 25 employees can get help paying for the cost of providing health insurance
  • New health plans must offer preventative and screening services at no cost to the patient

Some of the parts of the law that will be rolled out down the road are:

  • Insurance companies won’t be able to deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition
  • Insurance companies won’t be able to place a dollar limit on the care they cover in a single year
  • More Americans will have access to health coverage through Medicaid

With the Affordable Care Act being rolled out and affecting the healthcare industry so substantially, this makes a significant impact on Health Information Technology.  There are a number of provisions regarding health IT that the Affordable Care Act includes that address many of the challenges that are being faced in electronic health information exchange as well.  These provisions can be broken down and categorized into three distinct groups:

  • The first group of provisions attempts to improve the quality of healthcare by increasing quality data collected by health IT, creating new programs that involves health IT, and giving payments to existing entities for the use and improvement of health IT. 
  • The second group of provisions set new operating rules and standards that will directly or indirectly control the use and innovation of health IT.
  • The third group of provisions increases the size of the health IT workforce across different sectors.

In each of the groups of provisions that the Affordable Care Act has set in place, Health Information Technology is a key tool used and because of all of these changes health IT is greatly affected by this new law.  To get more specific information on what Sections of the act pertain to what group of provisions, review the detailed Summary of Key Information Technology Provisions article provided by HIMSS.

The Affordable Care Act has a significant impact on all Americans, their workplaces, healthcare provided to them, and health IT.  Throughout the next several years, the healthcare industry will continue to evolve and change under the Affordable Care Act and all of the different aspects and fields associated with healthcare will have to change as well.  To stay updated on the Affordable Care Act, its provisions, and  how it will affect you and the industry, look for future articles in our CoreTech Revolution monthly newsletter, or visit the Healthcare Reform page through HIMSS.

~ Ashley West