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The Affordable Care Act has triggered a significant increase in the availability of healthcare for millions of Americans, but will they be able to receive care?
In preparation for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, practices around the country have been working to recruit additional doctors, nurses, and administrative personnel, though many feel this may not be enough. Across the country, the Medicaid rolls alone are expected to increase by 9 million individuals stressing a thinly spread network of providers even further.
This increased population has two major effects on the availability of care:
1) Lower reimbursement for treatment costs, especially specialists
2) An increased volume of patients per provider
Physicians and practices have already begun declining to participate in the insurance offerings provided by the Affordable Care Act, many of these being specialists. This means that those seeking medical help may find themselves responsible for a significant portion of the treatment costs if they are able to get a prompt appointment.
What Can I Do?
Individuals receiving coverage provided by federal and state programs, particularly on Medicaid rolls are urged to take an active roll in wellness and preventative care. Suggestions for intervening before the need for specialist treatment arises include:
1) Managing diet and exercise
2) Preventative care screenings
3) Anticipating and planning for specialist visit scheduling and costs
4) Cultivating both in network and out of network provider options
5) Seeking group or private insurance coverage through alternative sources
6) Stocking up on first aid and isolation supplies in the home
7) Budgeting for potential out-of-pocket expenses