Obamacare is Upheld – What Does This Mean for Physicians?

One month ago, on Thursday, June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It was determined in a 5-4 ruling that the provision of the law that requires individuals to purchase health insurance falls under Congress’ taxing powers, not the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Strong Feelings on Healthcare

In a controversial and complex case, both Democrats and Republicans have weighed in on their feelings towards Obamacare. Some feel that the law gives the government too much power over doctors and patients, in one way because people will be required to buy healthcare insurance. The other side argued that Congress cannot require people to purchase healthcare insurance, what they can do is tax the people who refuse to purchase it. Other provisions of Obamacare include ending lifetime limits on benefits and forces coverage for pre-existing conditions and dependents up to age 26. This opens a wide gap in coverage for several sectors, including young people, students, mothers and low-income earners.

What Obamacare Means for Physicians

Physicians have also had strong feelings about how Obamacare will affect their practices. While a benefit of the law is allowing for more people to obtain healthcare; that comes at a cost. Doctors will be expected to take on the millions of new patients, without receiving compensation for the true cost of acquiring them. Reimbursement from Medicare and Obamacare is expected to be low, since the law relies on its ability to cut costs. Also, many of the population covered under Obamacare will not be paying, or paying very minimally, for their healthcare. Because they don’t have an actual financial investment in their services, this could lead to people mistreating the system. In an effort to avoid some of the hassle, doctors have been seeing patients on a cash basis, avoiding insurance companies all together, and allowing themselves to set the price of their services.

Other Provisions of Obamacare

Because of the court’s upholding of the individual mandate, the constitutionality of the other provisions weren’t ruled on, except for one. States are required to comply with the new eligibility requirements of the Medicaid’s expansion in order to receive additional federal funding.

Heading Toward the Election

Going forward, an important aspect of Obamacare will be helping people understand it. The provisions of the law allow for several different groups to gain healthcare coverage, but only if they are able to understand the services available to them. Also, as we all know, going into the Election 2012 healthcare will be an even hotter issue than it was in the past. Many of the most expensive steps in the law don’t take place until 2014, allowing for more voters to get on board before then. However, Mitt Romney has already made a promise to repeal the act if elected president, allowing those who dislike the law to give him their support. One thing we know for sure, this isn’t the last time we’ll hear the word Obamacare.

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