There’s new evidence to suggest that Obamacare is impacting the health industry for the better by successfully encouraging a greater emphasis on primary care. Ensuring that Americans are receiving regular preventative care is an important tenant of the health law, since it can ultimately help lower costs by preventing people from delaying medical treatment until they’re already very sick.
For the first time ever, Americans are now spending more money on primary care physicians than they are on specialists, according to a new survey by the physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. In what Merrit Hawkins’ president referred to as a “seismic shift” in medicine, primary care doctors are now the greatest source of revenue for the hospitals where they work:
For the first time, primary care physicians are driving more revenue on a per-doctor basis to hospitals than are specialists, according to a survey of hospital chief financial officers by physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. It’s expected that this result is not a fluke, but a reflection of the growing emphasis on primary care by hospitals and the health care system in general. […]
Merritt Hawkins said there were major shifts in the health care system from 2010 to 2013 that put pressure on all physicians, particularly specialists. One major factor is the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which has several pieces that put more onus on primary care to cut overall costs and keep patients healthy, especially those with chronic conditions or who otherwise would delay care until they are seriously ill. The rise in primary care contributions came as overall per-physician revenue for hospitals fell — from more than $1.5 million in 2010 to more than $1.4 million in 2013. It’s the lowest median in the 11 years Merritt Hawkins has conducted the survey.
As more than 25 million previously uninsured Americans gain coverage under Obamacare, the trend toward primary care is expected to continue. Those people likely avoided expensive medical treatment while they didn’t have insurance, but they’ll have the opportunity to seek regular check-ups once they become covered in 2014. In order to tackle the influx of Americans who will require primary care services, there will be opportunities for nurse practitioners to expand their role as health care providers.
As state and federal officials work toward the full implementation of Obamacare, politicians on both sides of the aisle have blasted the ongoing effort as a “train wreck.” But there’s mounting evidence to suggest those concerns are overblown. Although there’s still more work to be done to prepare for the state-level insurance marketplaces that will open to the public in 2014, much of the health reform law is already in effect — and it’s already having a demonstrable impact on the United States’ health industry. In addition to the shift to primary care, Obamacare has also already ensured that health care will be cheaper for many Americans by forcing private insurers to lower their premiums.